Oregon Should Use Federal Infrastructure Funds for Wildlife Crossings

Pew testimony outlines how allocations could save lives and money

Oregon Should Use Federal Funds for Wildlife Crossings

On Dec. 7, 2021, an expert from The Pew Charitable Trusts testified before the Oregon Transportation Commission and Department of Transportation on how the state should use the $1.2 billion in federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds allocated for Oregon’s transportation system.    

Pew recommended that the department provide at least $10 million of the funds—less than 1% of the total amount—to address wildlife-vehicle collision hot spots in the state.

The testimony highlighted the broad public support for wildlife crossing solutions, as well as the economic and public safety benefits.

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Efforts to Help Wildlife Cross a Highway Are Working

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U.S. Highway 97 runs for nearly 670 miles through national forests, lava fields, and farmed valleys. The land is prime habitat for myriad species, including elk, mule deer, and pronghorn, that migrate between their summer and winter homes. That means that twice a year, hundreds of thousands of animals cross the busy road to reach their seasonal ranges.

Two elk stand by the road as traffic moves over a large underground crossing structure that allows animals to pass under US 285 at this point on the 2 mile long Safety Treatment Corridor along US 285 just South of Buena Vista, CO. on Tuesday, September 17, 2019.
Wildlife crossings, such as this one under U.S. 285 near Buena Vista, Colorado, provide safe passage for migrating elk and other animals
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New Funding for Wildlife Highway Crossings

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Every spring, as they have for millennia, millions of animals in the American West—such as elk, pronghorn, and mule deer—journey from their winter grounds to cooler, more lush summer habitat to fatten up before fall.

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Oregon
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Majority of Oregonians Want to Protect Wildlife Migration Routes

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Like most states in the American West, Oregon is renowned for wide open spaces, rugged terrain, and large populations of wildlife. Unfortunately, many animal species in the state have come under increasing threat in recent years because of habitat loss and fragmentation.

Deer crossing highway
Deer crossing highway
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New Infrastructure Law is a Win for Drivers and Wildlife

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