World’s Largest Urban Wildlife Transition Project Received $1M Donation


Public or private, large or small, donations continue to flow into the world’s largest urban wildlife crossing project.

Boeing has announced that it will donate $1 million to the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Corridor project, which aims to build a bridge over Highway 101 in Agoura Hills that will allow mountain lions and other animals to cross the highway.

Other donors to the public-private project include the State Wildlife Conservation Board and the Annenberg Foundation, said Beth Pratt, California regional director of the National Wildlife Federation. She said the groundwork for the project could be laid this spring.

« Let’s celebrate. This is a really promising project to ensure that mountain lions don’t disappear, » Pratt said. « And with all the terrible news out there, something happened that kept me going. »

Pratt hopes the federation has raised $72 million to cover construction costs. In the worst-case scenario, the effort would need to raise another $5-10 million, he said.

Meanwhile, Pratt said other fundraising efforts will continue.

“The National Park Service Research is also not funded year-to-year. So we will also raise money for a donation for their work,” he said. « The Santa Monica Mountains Preserve will take over the responsibility of managing the habitat at the top of the gorge. So we still have some fundraising to do so they can find funds to do this. »

Boeing’s Santa Susana Lab – just north of Liberty Canyon – is home to a thriving ecosystem that includes mountain lions. But it’s also the site of a partial nuclear meltdown that occurred in 1959 that still hasn’t been cleared up despite a 2007 permit order from California’s Toxic Substances Control Department.

Pratt said the area will be cleared at some point. Regarding why Boeing donated, he said, « I would say that in some respects Wildlife chose Boeing. » Eventually, the Santa Susana site will become part of the larger Liberty Canyon painting.

Regional mountain lions are self-destructing, Pratt said. Birth defects began to appear, and sperm count and viability decreased.

« And that’s because 101 is on the way, so this will make it easier for new genetic blood or non-family members to come to the Santa Monica Mountains for mountain lions so they don’t literally push themselves out of existence. » said.

Awaiting completion of the wildlife transition project, the LA region is « about to become a world leader in how to coexist with wildlife and conserve biodiversity in such an urbanized environment, » Pratt said.

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