SANTA MONICA—The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority released a report on September 3, outlining the construction of a “regionally significant habitat linkage” across US-101 near Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura Hills.
Funded by a grant from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC), The Project Study Report (PSR) evaluates the efforts and cost needed to help protect wildlife from the eight-lane freeway, which has reportedly taken the lives of 12 mountains lions since 2002.
“US-101 is a formidable barrier for many wildlife species including mountain lions, bobcats, gray foxes and mule deer that have historically traveled between these mountain ranges. Populations of mammals with large home ranges such as mountain lions and bobcats need expansive areas in which to hunt, breed and survive,” states the report.
Long-term threats to the survival of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains has been determined by ongoing research by the National Park Service (NPS).
The PSR proposal drafts a 165-foot wide by 200-foot crossing from the Santa Monica Mountains into the Simi Hills, which will resemble the native landscape of the surrounding areas and the animal’s natural habitat. Noise barriers will also be installed to reduce the sound of the busy freeway.
“This is a very promising first step toward creation of a safe wildlife crossing over the US-101 freeway. The loss of several mountain lions trying to cross the US-101 demonstrates the vital role a wildlife crossing would play in preserving genetic diversity for many of the animals living in the Santa Monica Mountains and in protecting the fragile mountain ecosystem,” said U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu.
The cost of the wildlife crossing has been estimated at $30 million and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority is waiting for an additional $3 million to complete the design plans.
“Now, through a PSR that presents a viable, scientifically valid wildlife overcrossing, that goal is within sight. Public support has never been stronger; the ecological need has never been greater,” said California State Assemblymember Richard Bloom.
The State Coastal Conservancy has granted $1 million towards the design.
The public can donate to The National Wildlife Federation and the Santa Monica Mountains Fund at www.savelacougars.org.