The Wyoming Department of Transportation's (WYDOT) efforts to improve wildlife crossings in the state have gotten a boost from the federal government.
The $14.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will go towards constructing wildlife crossing on 19 miles of US 189 between Big Piney and La Barge in southwest Wyoming.
"This is an area that was selected by WYDOT and Wyoming Game and Fish as one of the top priorities for these types of wildlife improvements. And that's specifically because of the wildlife populations that move through this corridor to access summer range and to move away from energy activity," said John Davis, WYDOT Management Services Manager.
Director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Brian Nesvik said in a press release that the crossings will increase vehicular safety and support local wildlife.
"Wildlife is valuable to Wyoming, and this project is an investment that helps preserve the historic migration of many big game species," Nesvik said. "Underpasses, coupled with fencing, can reduce crashes by 80-90% and ensure animals can safely crossroads to get to seasonal ranges."
Davis said WYDOT is still finalizing design plans for what they call the Dry Piney project, but the department plans to utilize underpasses and fencing to target mule deer herds.
"We'll try to use fencing to funnel the animals to underpasses. Underpasses are less expensive than underpasses and mule deer will underpasses," he said.
Davis says the entire project will cost around $18 million. Earlier this year, the Wyoming Transportation Commission and Game and Fish committed a combined total of $2.5 million to this specific project. The rest of the funding will come from matching grants as well as private donations.
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