Yearly throughout California, hundreds of untamed animals are killed whereas attempting to cross roads and highways, typically injuring or killing motorists within the course of.
Lots of the state’s most well-known native species, together with mountain lions, bobcats, California tiger salamanders, chess butterflies, desert tortoises and black bears, face a menace to their survival whereas navigating a severely fragmented habitat and the chance of car and wildlife collisions. They search meals, shelter, and mates, escape wildfires or floods, and adapt to local weather change.
Impassable roads additionally create limitations to motion that may result in excessive ranges of inbreeding and genetic isolation and an elevated danger of native extinction.
Land administration companies resembling Midpeninsula Regional Open Area District (Midpen), Santa Clara Valley Open Area Authority, East Bay Regional Park District and lots of different companions are working to make California roads safer for wildlife. Nevertheless, the variety of protected crossings for wildlife wanted is giant.
Each area within the Gulf area is affected. Within the South Bay, wildlife struggles to cross roads resembling Freeway 17 and Freeway 101 within the Coyote Valley. Within the East Bay, Freeway 4 poses a big menace. This yr, the state legislature is contemplating invoice AB 2344, requiring Caltrans to include wildlife crossings when modifying transportation infrastructure. This legislation additionally addresses gaps within the coordination, info, and implementation wanted to assist meet the wants of struggling native wildlife.
Freeway crossings are vital in connecting habitat blocks to reaching the state’s 30 x 30 objective of conserving at the least 30% of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030 to assist long-term local weather resilience. Lack of habitat contact and diminishing genetic range pose a significant menace to many threatened species, together with mountain lions within the Santa Cruz Mountains, that are provisionally listed as threatened below the Endangered Species Act.
California Freeway Patrol knowledge reveals that in simply 4 years (2016-2020), greater than 44,000 main wildlife collisions have been reported. On common, 5 individuals are killed and greater than 250 injured in wildlife automobile collisions every year throughout the state. In 2018 alone, wildlife and automobile collisions price Californians greater than $230 million in financial and social prices (automobile repairs, insurance coverage premiums, emotional misery, and so on.). After all, many vehicular collisions in wildlife will not be reported, so these statistics are prone to be low. Animals might survive an accident and die of their accidents out of the best way.
Fortuitously, putting in wildlife corridors resembling tunnels, flyovers, and directional fencing is a cheap method to cut back wildlife automobile collisions and shield pure wildlife motion. AB 2344 offers us the chance to assist biodiversity and set up a system of wildlife crossings that join habitats to stop the huge ranges of killing on the roads that happen right now.
With out AB 2344, initiatives shouldn’t have to incorporate wildlife safety. The California Environmental High quality Act, as utilized and interpreted, didn’t cut back the impacts of roads and highways on wildlife contact. Failure to include options that permit wildlife to securely cross state highways threaten California’s wealthy biodiversity.
Daring state motion to make sure the connectivity of wildlife habitats is important to preserving our biodiversity and adapting to local weather change. Proactively integrating transit infrastructure into our state freeway system will give California wildlife a preventing probability to outlive and thrive whereas bettering driver security for all Californians.
Anna M. Ruiz is the Managing Director of the Mediterranean Regional Open Area District. Andrea Mackenzie is the Managing Director of the Santa Clara Valley Open Area Authority. Sabrina B. Landreth is the final supervisor of the East Bay Regional Park District.