FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 10, 2021
Hailey Hawkins, Southern Rockies Field Representative, Endangered Species Coalition
[email protected], 662-251-5804
Michael Dax, Western Program Director, Wildlands Network
[email protected], 518-598-3442
Anna Wearn, Policy Analyst, Center for Large Landscape Conservation
[email protected], 406-586-8082
Bipartisan Resolution Introduced in Colorado General Assembly to Protect Wildlife Corridors
Denver, CO – On Friday, Senator Jessie Danielson and Representative Perry Will introduced a Joint Resolution in the Colorado General Assembly to protect the state’s wildlife corridors, which would conserve native species, improve road safety, and bolster Colorado’s economy. The legislation marks a monumental step towards preserving Colorado’s rich biodiversity and wildlife heritage for future generations.
Corridors are natural areas that connect patches of habitat to allow native species and to move freely across the landscape. Researchers suggest that intact migration routes are critical to the survival of many of Colorado’s beloved native species. For this reason, Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order in 2019 to protect big game migration corridors throughout the state. Additionally, a bipartisan group of legislators recently called for legislative action to address habitat fragmentation, facilitate wildlife movement, and conserve ecological connectivity.
“Without ecological corridors to connect intact habitats, our protected areas become isolated ‘islands’ that are unable to sustain wildlife populations,” says Hailey Hawkins of The Endangered Species Coalition. “Colorado’s iconic wildlife—including moose, elk, deer, and pronghorn, as well as non-game species such as lynx and cutthroat trout—depend on intact seasonal habitats and the migratory routes that connect them.”
Joint Resolution 935 calls for the state to commission a report identifying wildlife corridor benefits and opportunities to reconnect habitat; encourages state agencies to collect further data and create a plan for improving habitat connectivity for native species; and to establish a working group to develop state policies to protect wildlife corridors.
“Healthy and resilient wildlife populations, as well as connected natural landscapes, are the foundation of what makes Colorado so special,” says Michael Dax of Wildlands Network. “The same landscapes and wildlife species that contribute to the quality of life for Coloradans also draw visitors here who contribute greatly to state and local economies.”
According to a 2017 analysis commissioned by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the state’s outdoor recreation industry employs more than 511,000 Coloradans and provides $9.4 billion annually in local and state tax revenue. And while people are enjoying the recreation opportunities that Colorado has to offer, corridors can also help keep them safe during their travels around the state.
“Wildlife corridors and crossing structures keep large animals like elk and deer off roadways, improving safety for both wildlife and motorists,” says Anna Wearn of the Center for Large Landscape Conservation. “Communities that have built bridges, underpasses, culverts, and fencing have seen the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions decrease dramatically, which saves lives and costs associated with these and preventable devastating accidents.”
In 2016, the Colorado Department of Transportation reported almost 4,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions, which resulted in nearly 400 people injuries and, tragically, in multiple deaths. Wildlife crossing structures can reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions by up to 90%, as was the case with the Highway 9 project between Silverthorne and Kremmling.
The House and Senate will vote on the resolution within the next month.
About the Endangered Species Coalition
The Endangered Species Coalition works through grassroots organizing and mobilizing to keep wildlife and wild places protected. endangered.org
About Wildlands Network
Wildlands Network works to reconnect, restore and rewild North America so that life—in all its diversity—can thrive. wildlandsnetwork.org
About the Center for Large Landscape Conservation
Center for Large Landscape Conservation is the hub of a growing global movement to reverse the fragmentation of the earth’s landscapes and restore nature’s resilience to climate change. largelandscapes.org