Colorado residents and millions of annual visitors alike enjoy the state’s dramatic landscapes, abundant recreation opportunities, and iconic wildlife. So it’s not surprising that Colorado recently became the latest state to pass legislation to safeguard habitat connectivity and wildlife corridors, which are essential for healthy ecosystems. Protecting the ability of wildlife to move freely across the landscape is a win-win-win: it allows animals to meet their needs, enhances driver safety, and supports recreation opportunities for hunters, anglers, and wildlife viewers.
Wildlife-vehicle collisions take a toll on our environment and society in many ways. They endanger wildlife populations, cause human injuries and deaths, and cost US taxpayers billions of dollars a year. Well-designed wildlife road-crossing structures are a proven solution but are not without challenges. Two reports recently published by the US Forest Service—with contributions from Center for Large Landscape Conservation staff—address these challenges while providing useful information on costs, benefits, and planning of crossing structures.
Gerald Wagner is the Director of the Blackfeet Environmental Program and Director of Blackfeet Nation’s Drinking Water, Wastewater, and Solid Waste Program. We sat down with Gerald to discuss the insights he’s gained from his extensive work in conservation and his advice for conservation groups who want to partner with Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples.
State fish and wildlife managers recognize that keeping landscapes connected is an important conservation tool. Yet there is growing evidence that the impacts of climate change are already altering the needs and behaviors of animals, creating new patterns of movement throughout the landscape. Staff from the Center recently contributed to a new toolkit offering guidance on protecting wildlife movement and corridor habitat in the face of a changing climate.