Following years of planning, crews at long last broke ground Friday morning on a $87 million wildlife crossing in Agoura Hills intended to give mountain lions and various other animals safe passage to and from the Santa Monica Mountains in an effort to save them from extinction.
It’s no occurrence that the groundbreaking for the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing is taking place on Earth Day. When completely finished, it will be the biggest passage of this type on the entire planet.
The intersection will span all ten lanes of the 101 interstate at Liberty Canyon Road. It will be 165-foot-wide and stand 10 feet over the road. It will converge the Santa Monica Mountains with the Simi Hills. The intersection will be camouflaged by shrubs and trees and even include sound barriers.
“It’s an engineering marvel,” Beth Pratt, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation, told CBSLA Thursday. “I mean, to put this living landscape on top, you have to put soil on top so that the vegetation can grow. And one of the other unique things about our crossing: nobody has ever tried to do it in such an urban area as well. So we have to do special design considerations to mitigate that sound you can hear. Because if an animal hears that, he’s not gonna wanna go on top of it. The light from the headlights. I mean, all that stuff. We have to trick the animal into thinking they’re not going over a freeway, or else they’ll not use it.”
The intersection is on trajectory to be completed by the year 2025. It is being financed through a combination of private donations and government support. Among those in participation at the ceremony was California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
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The beginning of the construction comes one day after a mountain lion was hit and killed by a vehicle on the 405 road in the Sepulveda Pass. Last month, another mountain lion was hit and killed on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.
You might be thinking to yourself. Why worry about the big dangerous cats? Well, contrary to the reputation that mountain lions usually have, between the years 1986 and 2021, there have only been 12 mountain lion attacks on humans reported in Southern California. Los Angeles is said to be one of the only two major cities in the world where big wild cats roam freely. Besides, they’re living creatures too and play a part in the ecosystem.
Specialists have assessed that the mountain lion populace in the Santa Monica Mountains could become extinct within 50 years without an influx of genetic diversity. The lions are generally segregated because of the interstates that act as barriers to movement across the region.
The intersection is named for the Annenberg Foundation, a significant monetary supporter to the cause. The effort is a public-private organization that includes Caltrans, the National Park Service, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy/Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains and the National Wildlife Federation.
The passageway is being created following 20 years of studies from the National Park Service that observed roads and urban development are dangerous for animals trying to navigate the Los Angeles area. Urban improvement has additionally created islands of habitats that can hereditary detach the region’s animals.
The design team is being driven by Living Habitats LLC.