National Wildlife Federation, leading the effort with Annenberg Foundation, kicks off â€śNature Based Infrastructureâ€ť tour to raise awareness and crowdfund.
The largest wildlife corridor project in the world, across the 101 Freeway at Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills, is one step closer to breaking ground.
Last month, the Wildlife Conservation Board, with funding secured by Senator Stern in this yearâ€™s climate change budget negotiations, awarded $20 million to the project, matching a recent private philanthropic $25 million gift from the Annenberg Foundation.
â€śBuilding this corridor makes our communities and freeways safer, and will sustain jobs and the environment with a new kind of infrastructure. We can re-engineer the nature we destroyed with the freeways and sprawl of LA, as we must, to prevent a mass extinction event on our watch,â€ť said Senator Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee.
Sternâ€™s SB 790 to expand efforts to build more wildlife corridors through long-term transportation infrastructure funding is pending before Governor Gavin Newsom, awaiting a signature. The crossing responds to more than two decades of National Parks Service and other research on the Los Angeles areaâ€™s endangered mountain lion populations and other threatened ecosystems, which shows that absent quick action to overcome freeway barriers, extinction is likely due to compounding threats from rodenticides, extreme climate, and developmental encroachment. This project will reconnect an entire ecosystem by linking the Santa Monica Mountains to the Sierra Madre Range, one of the few coastal-to-inland corridors remaining in Southern California.
The project has raised more than $44 million in private funds and with the new state funds it is expected to break ground later this year on a natively vegetated overpass spanning the 101 Freeway and Agoura Road near the Liberty Canyon Road exit. This is one of the only remaining stretches of the 101 with undeveloped habitat on both sides of the freeway.
â€śWhen the Governor and I walked this site years ago, I knew he got the gravity of the mission,â€ť said Stern. â€śBut now, with Secretary Crowfoot and Director Donnelly and the whole team on board, and the biodiversity science and infrastructure funding moving in concert, this is no longer just inspiration. Now we build.â€ť