$25 Million Challenge Grant for Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing

The Canyon ChronicleBy The Canyon Chronicle      May 28, 2021

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$25 Million Challenge Grant for Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing
Become part of history and join the challenge to make the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing over the 101 Freeway a reality! A record $25 million conservation challenge grant from Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation to the National Wildlife Federation’s #SaveLACougars campaign will help build a wildlife crossing in the L.A. area. With this donation, the campaign will have raised more than $44 million to date and needs to secure an estimated $35 million to unlock the Annenberg Challenge Grant and break ground in November. The wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon over the 101 Freeway—which will be the largest wildlife crossing in the world—will reconnect a long-fragmented ecosystem, a biodiversity hotspot and help protect the endangered mountain lion population and other wildlife that make their home in the Santa Monica Mountains. Mountain Lions Struggling to Survive The National Park Service (NPS) reports that 23 mountains lions have been struck and killed by traffic in their study area since 2002. According to Wildlife Biologist Jeff Sikich, area mountain lions and bobcats are struggling to survive due to urban development and genetic inbreeding that results from wildlife being unable to cross the highway and roads and find suitable mates. These felines are in desperate need of access to the natural areas on both sides of 101. Public-Private Partnership The Wildlife Crossing is made possible due to a public-private partnership. The core of the partnership is Caltrans, the National Park Service, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains and the National Wildlife Federation. Yet, if there is one key person most responsible for fundraising and publicizing the urgent need for the Wildlife Crossing, it is Beth Pratt, California Regional Executive Director, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and leader of the worldwide #SaveLACougars campaign. Pratt said that if the project stays on track with fundraising, the $88 million crossing will break ground in late 2021 and be completed by the end of 2023. “Caltrans is on track, completing the blueprints in August,” Pratt said. “The total project cost in 2018 was $88 million, with an estimated construction cost at the time of between $55-78 million. As we advance through design, we now have more information…and are looking at cost reductions wherever possible…,” adding that she is confident that all of the money will be there when the time comes to break ground. How to Donate The National Wildlife Federation and the Santa Monica Mountains Fund have established a fundraising initiative at savelacougars.org to raise funds for the engineering design and construction expenses. Naming and recognition opportunities are available for leadership level donations. Please contact Beth Pratt at prattb@nwf.org. Prefer to donate by check? Make your check payable to National Wildlife Federation with #SaveLACougars in the memo line. Mail to: National Wildlife Federation c/o: April Gilbert, Operations Coordinator, 2000 Riverside Drive, #101, Los Angeles, CA 90039. For more information: mrca.ca.gov. The National Wildlife Federation is the United States’ largest private nonprofit conservation education and advocacy organization, with more than six million members and supporters, and 51 state and territorial affiliated organizations. The Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation that provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations in the United States and globally. Since 1989, it has generously funded programs in education and youth development; arts, culture and humanities; civic and community life; health and human services; and animal services and the environment.
The Canyon Chronicle

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