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Wildlife Corridors Important For Southern California, Nation

Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains Model of the wildlife corridor bridge over a freeway north of Los Angeles in this undated photo.
Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains
Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains Model of the wildlife corridor bridge over a freeway north of Los Angeles in this undated photo.

Wildlife advocates are making a pitch to help mountain lions by reconnecting Southern California habitat sliced up by highways.

Freeways define so much of Southern California life. The roads connect people and communities, but they also divide wildlife habitats.

Wildlife Corridors Important For Southern California, Nation
Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

In Southern California three rugged mountain lion habitats are isolated from each other by freeways and development. Ecologists are working to rebuild some of those connections.

A new report from Environment America, Reconnecting Nature: how wildlife corridors can help save species, calls for major investments in corridors that link habitats.

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One example in the report looked at the Southern California mountain lion ranges around San Diego and Los Angeles.

Habitat corridors are part of a plant to reconnect those ranges, which would help the big cats maintain range and genetic diversity.

“We not only need connectivity,” said Winston Vickers, of UC Davis. “We need more protected habitat. Just to have secure populations in those mountain ranges across time.”

The Liberty Canyon wildlife crossing north of Los Angeles is designed to reconnect mountain habitat that is crucial for the survival of the big cats.

Backers need about $6.5 million to fund the nearly $57 million project.

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VIDEO: Wildlife Corridors Important For Southern California, Nation

Some government entities understand the value of the corridors.

California did budget $61 million for wildlife crossings and there is help on the federal level.

“The new infrastructure deal that just passed the senate includes a 350 million dollar grant program for wildlife crossings and projects that reduce wildlife collisions,” said Alex Peterson, Environment America co-author of the report.

Peterson’s report supports legislation aimed at creating and preserving habitat connections at all local, state and federal levels of government.