Growing efforts to add wildlife over and underpasses along a large section of Interstate 70 are gaining steam in the High Country. The goal is to make that stretch of interstate safer for both drivers and animals.
According to Rocky Mountain Wild, I-70 is one of the most dangerous highways in Colorado for wildlife. It bisects major migration routes with four to six lanes of high-speed traffic and concrete dividers. Four of Colorado’s threatened Canada lynx population have been killed trying to cross the highway.
“It’s a very important wildlife movement Corridor,” Rocky Mountain Wild conservation biologist Paige Singer told CBS4 Monday.
As a biologist with Rocky Mountain Wild, Singer along with Denver Zoo staff, are studying wildlife moment through the area. Now, Rocky Mountain Wild is pushing for wildlife over and underpass structures to be built on the east side of Vail Pass.
The proposal is supported by the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and local governments. They all agree this is a worthy and needed project, but in years past, financial realities meant no movement on fixing the problem.
“All of our environmental problems now require us to have a major community effort to solve them,” executive director of Rocky Mountain Wild Tehri Parker said.
Recent public and private partnerships proving successful as a way to get these expensive projects off the ground. Highway 9 north of Silverthorne now has wildlife over passes and fencing. It was all paid for with a combination of private and public funding.
“We don’t see organizations and agencies like CDOT being able to take on some of these projects alone, we need a bigger community to rally behind on these projects,” Parker added.
And that’s what Rocky Mountain Wild hopes they can achieve on Vail Pass.
“We think these things should be prioritized as we move forward with our infrastructure development plan,” Parker said.
There’s a petition gaining momentum in support of the project.