The 101 Freeway in Los Angeles County, which runs through the second largest city in the country and boasts the most notorious traffic patterns, is about to get a green makeover with the largest wildlife crossing overpass in the earth.
Los Angeles County has a large population of mountain lions, but the extensive development of the area and surrounding cities has created pockets of isolated habitat divided by huge highways such as 101, 110 and 405. This creates problems not only of the risk of let the lions try to cross the street and get killed by cars.
“We know from science what’s going on there, and it’s a little deeper than just that animals are getting hit by cars,” explained Beth Pratt of the National Wildlife Federation, one of several partner organizations working on the project, to Fast company. “They are genetically isolating themselves, because animals cannot move to the little islands of habitat that are created by our highways.”
Facilitated in part by Save LA Cougars and the National Wildlife Federation2,700 donors, mostly private, have raised $ 15 million for the construction of a 165-foot crossing that will pass over 101 in Liberty Canyon, the designs of which are in the final stages of completion.
The overpass will be covered with extra-dense trees and other vegetation, so that the crossing is as quiet and shady as possible, so that the lions feel comfortable and safe when using it.
Between Thousand Oaks and Calabasas, where some of Hollywood’s richest celebrities have their havens, the highway will connect two wildlife habitat areas, Malibu Creek State Park / Santa Monica Mountains and Palo Comado Canyon, and hopefully create a corridor to through which lions can travel freely and reach other areas of the sierra.
If the fundraising continues, according to Save LA Cougars, a nonprofit organization established to support the project, it will break ground on the flyover in 2021. That’s good news for everyone.
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