In 2022, states across the country have passed legislation to take advantage of historic, new federal funding for wildlife crossing structures. Over just the past six months, seven states have enacted laws that set aside the required state match to federal grants for infrastructure projects that reconnect habitat. Many of these state policies also facilitate coordination between transportation and natural resource agencies—as well as collaboration with diverse stakeholders—to identify projects that will most effectively reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve habitat connectivity.
Join the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) to learn about Building a Durable National Framework for Large Landscape Conservation at 10:30 am ET on Tuesday, March 29. This briefing focuses on policy and funding opportunities for conservation efforts that span county, state, tribal, and national borders. Decision-makers, practitioners, and anyone interested in supporting landscape-scale conservation are encouraged to attend.
The opinion piece below, authored by two Center for Large Landscape Conservation staff members, originally appeared on Smerconish.com on November 24, 2021. Since then, the Center has created a “toolkit” to help interested applicants and their partners understand the Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program criteria and design projects that will make the most of this new federal funding.
Marking an important step to safeguard both people and wildlife, the bipartisan infrastructure package that the U.S. Congress passed late Friday includes $350 million to construct wildlife road crossings. These structures reconnect important habitat and allow animals to pass safely over or under roadways, avoiding traffic. The legislation also makes projects to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions eligible for funding in other transportation programs. The provisions in this legislation will help safeguard biodiversity while stimulating the U.S. economy, mitigating climate impacts, and reducing highway fatalities.
Marking a significant step for wildlife conservation, the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act along with $400 million for projects to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, passed the United States House of Representatives as part of H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act. These important provisions will safeguard biodiversity while helping stimulate the U.S. economy, mitigate climate impacts, and reduce highway fatalities.
Colorado residents and millions of annual visitors alike enjoy the state’s dramatic landscapes, abundant recreation opportunities, and iconic wildlife. So it’s not surprising that Colorado recently became the latest state to pass legislation to safeguard habitat connectivity and wildlife corridors, which are essential for healthy ecosystems. Protecting the ability of wildlife to move freely across the landscape is a win-win-win: it allows animals to meet their needs, enhances driver safety, and supports recreation opportunities for hunters, anglers, and wildlife viewers.
Wildlife-vehicle collisions take a toll on our environment and society in many ways. They endanger wildlife populations, cause human injuries and deaths, and cost US taxpayers billions of dollars a year. Well-designed wildlife road-crossing structures are a proven solution but are not without challenges. Two reports recently published by the US Forest Service—with contributions from Center for Large Landscape Conservation staff—address these challenges while providing useful information on costs, benefits, and planning of crossing structures.
The Biden administration has proposed a bold conservation agenda to address biodiversity, environmental justice, and climate change. Through an executive order and a subsequent report, the administration proposes an unprecedented and visionary response to the current environmental crises. However, this guidance does not detail how the principles, priorities, and objectives outlined in the report will be implemented. The Center for Large Landscape Conservation and partners have provided a potential roadmap for how to achieve these ambitious goals.
Collaborative landscape conservation is increasingly important as our country faces emerging challenges to address climate change, biodiversity, environmental justice, conservation of working lands, and rebuilding our economy. Join the Network for Landscape Conservation for the Policy Forum webinar “The Future of Landscape Conservation: Investments in Science and Networks for Biodiversity, Climate, and Cultural Conservation Goals,” which will highlight needed investments to meet these current conservation challenges.