Creating “Safe Passages” To Conserve Migration Routes in Wyoming As the Climate Changes

The Washington Post did a beautiful piece on the importance of preserving wildlife corridors in the face of climate change and other man-made threats. Interstate 80 is a vital transportation link that connects the east and west coasts, but it also blocks the historic migration routes through the Rocky Mountains for mule deer, elk, and pronghorn — some of the most iconic species of wildlife in the American West. It is worth your time. 

As The Post story explains, the state of Wyoming along with a group of scientists is now working to build wildlife bridges, tunnels, and other structures to conserve those migration routes and help the animals safely traverse highways, industrial developments, and other hazards.  In Wyoming alone, there are 6000 car collisions with wildlife each year causing an estimated $50m million in damage.  Constructing these “safe passages” is expensive too.  Federal grant funds and Wyoming specialty license plates are only a start to covering the costs.

Why This Matters:  The Wildlife Corridors Act currently pending in Congress has bipartisan support and could make even more safe passages for wildlife possible.  An infrastructure bill aimed at post-pandemic economic recovery with a huge transportation component might be one of the next pieces of legislation that Congress takes up.  The question is will Congress include the $250 million in funding for wildlife corridors proposed by Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming — or will it be seen as too green?  If the next stimulus bill can fund transportation projects that conserve wildlife too, that would certainly help conserve iconic American species for future generations.

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