This month, engineers will start the initial building process of the world’s largest wildlife crossing in southern California.

After the construction, the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing —- the bridge over the main Southern California highway will provide more room to roam for mountain lions and other animals. On Thursday, the National Wildlife Federation announced that regarding the start of construction, a ceremony for the span over U.S. 101 near Los Angeles will take place on Earth Day, April 22.

 

The construction process will begin on 22 April in celebration of Earth Day. This will be the first bridge of its kind in California and the largest in the world.

The US National Park Service conducted a study that has shown that roads and other developments are life-threatening for animals trying to cross the road. Now, the crossing comes after two decades of study.

As the bridge avoids vehicle impacts on animals, this bridge will be a safe crossing for them. Estimates show that there are around 2 million collisions between vehicles and large animals each year in the US. This has led to more than 26,00 injuries to people and about 200 deaths each year.

Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing
Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing

The climate crisis is also threatening the animals in another way. As temperatures across the US rise, some animals are forced to migrate to other places in search of more suitable conditions. Not only that, but the unpredictable wildfires are also threatening these animals. So they need to escape and they need routes.

By re-connecting an integral wildlife corridor, Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing will help us maintain the biodiversity across the region and this crossing will help save a threatened local population of mountain lions from extinction.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, this project will come up with an enduring benefit to the wildlife species and provide a global model for urban wildlife conservation.

The Los Angeles-area bridge has gained universal support. The environmental impact draft document received around 9,000 comments and only 15 comments of them are opposed, according to the wildlife federation. Officials said that the construction is slated to be completed by early 2025.

“Crossings like this are nothing new,” said wildlife federation’s Beth Pratt said, noting there is one outside Yosemite for toads. “This one’s historic because we’re putting it over one of the busiest freeways in the world.”

Another happy news is the construction process will take place mostly at night time and lengthy shutdowns of the 101 freeway are not required.

“California’s diverse array of native species and ecosystems have earned the state recognition as a global biodiversity hotspot. In the face of extreme climate impacts, it’s more important than ever that we work together to protect our rich natural heritage,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.

“This project will restore vital habitat and enable mountain lions and other wildlife to roam safely.”

 

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