The largest wildlife crossing project in the world could be longer, the groundbreaking ceremony in spring

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The Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing has been impressive since its inception.

The most famous nickname for the span that would provide wildlife a safe passage on the 101 Highway in Agoura Hills is a powerful one; the “largest urban wildlife crossing in the world,” according to the National Wildlife Federation.

Of course, a bracket in brackets was always necessary in front of “greatest” – “[proposed]. “

But now, to quote “Almost Famous”, everything is happening, it seems.

“This spring, the Caltrans offer will be put out to tender. That’s huge … I’ve worked on it for a decade, ”Beth Pratt, California regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation told LAist. “So this offer is going to go out, and based on that schedule, we should take a look at the break[ing] Soil this spring. “

A representation of the wildlife crossing over the 101. In September it was announced that the crossing would be named after the largest donor, Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation, after completion.

(Courtesy: Living Habitats and National Wildlife Federation)

A long-awaited start of construction for the project is headline-worthy in and of itself, but wait a minute, there’s more. The intersection is set to expand even further thanks to the proposed $ 10 million budget in the state budget for next year.

“The budget includes a one-time $ 10 million generic fund for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to secure funding for the completion of the tunnel phase of the Agoura Road crossing project,” states page 102 of the Governor Newsom’s proposal hidden item budget summary for 2022-2023.

A top view of the 101 freeway with a grassy land bridge spanning it.

A top view of the planned Liberty Canyon Corridor with the planned extension of the front road.

(Living Habitats and National Wildlife Federation)

Agoura Road runs right along the highway, so the additional extension, which is considered phase two of the project, would expand the span a little further, making the proposed largest urban wildlife crossing in the world just a tad bigger. Of course, still subject to approval in the final revision of the state budget in May.

Fortunately, even in the worst case scenario, where the $ 10 million is withdrawn, the project’s larger future remains bright because phase one, Transition 101, is not dependent on new funding.

A group of a dozen people in hiking clothes are walking on a front street next to a freeway under the leadership of Governor Gavin Newsom, wearing a dark shirt and blue jeans with sunglasses.

Governor Gavin Newsom will tour the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Corridor with Beth Pratt in August 2019.

(National Wildlife Association)

Pratt has broken down the finances for the project further.

“87 million” [dollars] is the estimate that Caltrans made in 2018 and that they need to do as part of their process for the overall project that includes all phases, ”said Pratt. “In that estimate, the high estimate for the construction was 78 million[ dollars.] So by that point, they’d designed 30%. So we have now come to a point where we have 100% or 95% … for the first phase. “

Pratt says $ 78 million is ultimately a solid estimate for the first phase of the project. She says that for phase one they have more than enough to move forward, enough for CalTrans to move forward, which is a crucial hurdle to clear.

Eleven animals, a coyote, a deer, a rabbit, a mountain lion, a bobcat, an eagle, a bat, a toad, an aunt, and a lizard are depicted in circles around a depiction of the wildlife crossing.

A breakdown of the biodiversity of wildlife that would benefit from the crossing.

(Living habitats / National Wildlife Federation)

The next steps include further evaluating the design and construction of the second phase, as well as ensuring that adequate funding is raised and allocated for major maintenance work around the corridor. After all, it is a unique project, a long and remarkable cocktail of private and public collaboration.

“The Liberty Canyon Wildlife Bridge Project is a partnership with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, the National Park Service, and the National Wildlife Federation,” the proposed reads Budget summary.

But in the end it boils down to the cause for Pratt. It’s a love job, and appropriately, our interview was interrupted by their own barking animals. Seeing that the crossing is complete will be worth every inch of the effort.

“I think I’ll cry. I think a lot of us will … Just [seeing] the first animal captured on camera goes over … that’s what it’s about, ”said Pratt. “The plight of these mountain lions… I remember having this really steadfast thought: ‘Not on my watch. We can fix this problem .’… this team will prevent the extinction of the mountain lion population. “

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