Animal activists are working to combat the scourge of dead mountain lions on LA’s freeways—plans for the world’s largest-ever wildlife crossing were released by Living Habitats, the firm that designed the project, last Wednesday, Oct. 21, according to CBS Los Angeles.
A public-private partnership involving Caltrans, the National Park Service, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains and the National Wildlife Federation, the project is scheduled to break ground in 2021.
At 165 feet wide, the wildlife crossing will span the 10 lanes of the Ventura (101) Freeway at Liberty Canyon Road between Agoura Hills and Calabasas, close to the site of yet another mountain lion death on Wednesday, Sept. 30. The Santa Monica Mountains cougar population is dangerously close to extinction, having dwindled due to vehicle deaths, plus genetic abnormalities that have resulted from the tiny, geographically constricted breeding pool.
The surface of the crossing will be landscaped with nearly an acre of native vegetation to blend into the surrounding mountain habitat and help provide shelter, food and water for the different animal and plant species, according to CBS Los Angeles. Living Habitats is reportedly already collecting seeds, acorns and mushrooms to grow in a special project nursery until the crossing can be built.
The crossing is projected to cost $87 million to build; fundraising has been going on for years.
“Wildlife will have a safe passage over the US-101 freeway, and this will reduce the potential for animal-vehicle collisions,” John Bulinski, director of Caltrans District 7, said in a statement. “A safer transportation system for all!”