Wildlife Crossing In Southern Oregon Gets Federal Funding Boost

An initiative of the Southern Oregon Wildlife Crossing Coalition (SOWCC) has made progress towards its funding goals with the addition of $400,000 approved by Congress for fencing to be erected in the Mariposa Preserve for a wildlife crossing corridor over Interstate 5.

The coalition is affiliated with the Oregon Wildlife Foundation whose mission is to enable the lasting conservation of Oregon’s wildlife, fish, and its citizens’ enjoyment of the natural resources. SOWCC advocates for increased safety for motorists and improved wildlife movement. It is a broad-based partnership operating in the Siskiyou Summit region between Ashland and the California border on the I-5.


Wildlife Crossings To Make Road Safer

The crossings planned follow a five-year tracking which showed that the two-mile stretch to be covered by the fence had 34 deer-vehicle collisions between 2016 and 2020. The federal funds are the first funding for the crossing to specifically target a tangible and distinct section of the project.

The executive director of the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy, Steve Wise, said that the crossing not only benefits the wildlife but also leads to a higher level of public safety. He said,  “The collisions on this highway are a risk to human safety and come at a significant cost.”

He also confirmed that in other wildlife crossings, animals are able to find the crossing instantly and the mortality rate decreased by 90% in most other crossings.


Wildlife Corridor Over Southern Oregon’s I-5

The wildlife crossing will be at a junction point critical for biological diversity and will cover Klamath, the Cascades, and Siskiyou. The wildlife habitat could lower biodiversity without corridor fragmentation, and this would also make the animals less able to withstand climate change.

SOWCC is working to create a network of safe wildlife crossings, with the first project being a wildlife overpass bridge near the Mariposa Preserve at milepost 1.7. The initiative supports state and federal efforts to reduce dangerous wildlife-vehicle collisions while increasing ecological connectivity through the corridors.

With funding of over $20 million as a goal, Wise said that this is seen as an investment that will pay for itself in a very short time, despite what may seem like a hefty price tag. SOWCC, which comprises 20 different organizations and agencies, indicated that it currently has about 10% of the funding needed for the planned wildlife crossing, but hopes to get more money raised towards its goal through grants and funding from government agencies such as the Federal Highway Administration.

More information is available on their website here.

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