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California Nonprofit Expands Acreage for Highway 17 Wildlife Crossing

Flickr/Sourav Das

 As the Highway 17 Wildlife Crossing plans in California are solidified, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County to add 256 acres of conservation land.

Highway 17 in California runs directly through the Santa Cruz Mountains and is home to large number of animals, from deer to mountain lions. The new underpass is designed to allow safe passage for the animals, also giving them an area to roam safely in the mountains as opposed to disrupting traffic.

The group that has proposed the underpass, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, a local nonprofit in the area, announced that “it protected an additional 256 acres of nearby land with a conservation easement.” This nearby land is directly between two conservation zones already, both the Loch Lomond Recreation Area and Quail Hollow Ranch Park, which are considerable distances away from each other.

The president of the Land Trust, Terry Corwin, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel: “Like a jigsaw puzzle, we’re protecting components of what will hopefully become a 100 percent protected wildlife corridor.” As the land proposed is about a mile away from the two nature sites, there is hope that it will drastically cut down on animal disturbances on Highway 17, and will also allow the animals to roam and hunt in peace.

There have been many animal incidents on Highway 17 and in particular since September 2015 to December 2015, “more than 10 deer [were] hit by cars while trying to cross the roadway. And in the last seven years, 15 mountain lions” were struck there, as well.

The plans for the tunnel were in motion since 2011, and are still in the process of fundraising for the effort near Laurel Curve at Highway 17. The focus was reeled in specifically on Laurel Canyon because it is a common area for animals to traverse because it is near a water source, also. However, though the plans are in motion, there is no set construction start date in the process.

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California Nonprofit Expands Acreage for Highway 17 Wildlife Crossing