We need more nature. More nature means abundant wildlife in our world – from butterflies floating by, to coyotes howling at night, to whale tails breaching the surface just visible from shore. Nature works better when it’s connected.
But in Oregon and in the U.S., our wild spaces have been fragmented by roads, fences and other products of human development that block the movement of animals. This can push whole ecosystems out of balance, cut off genetic flow between populations, leave animals short of key resources, interrupt migration cycles and leave species more susceptible to other challenges like disease, wildfires and climate change.
A key solution to habitat fragmentation is to create wildlife corridors, projects that reconnect separated habitats, keeping in mind a species’ need for adequate space, food, water, shelter and mates. Corridors can be made up of single projects or networks of small-scale infrastructure, including but not limited to wildlife crossings. Wildlife crossings are typically overpasses or underpasses that allow wildlife to safely cross major roads that run through their habitats. Oregon currently only has five completed wildlife crossings, much fewer than other Western states, but because of recent investments made by the Oregon legislature, that number will soon grow.
On Friday Governor Kotek signed House Bill 5030, which includes an allocation of $5 million to fund more wildlife crossings.
“Making investments in wildlife crossings in Oregon will increase the safety of our roads, provide more freedom of movement for our wildlife and help create more complete ecosystems that have been fragmented by human development,” said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, state director of Environment Oregon. “We want to thank Representative Ken Helm for his continued leadership on this issue and Governor Kotek for signing this bill into law.”
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