News and views on wildlife corridors, linkages, and connectivity
on Jul 18 2010
Sad news for Arizona wildlife. Due to budgetary concerns, Arizona is giving up on some projects related to wildlife crossing structures.
Arizona is putting the brakes on some of its wildlife road-crossing projects aimed at making sure cars don't collide with elk, deer and other animals.
Environmentalists say this reverses years of work to make highways safer for both people and wildlife.
But state officials say they want to spend their federal funds on other transportation needs. And a limited-government advocate applauds the state's actions.
Since late June, the Arizona Department of Transportation has canceled two previously approved crossing projects and tabled work on three studies - all federally financed - of other crossings. Officials say they weren't in the agency's best interest, hadn't gone through proper reviews or needed more study.
The canceled projects may get financed through other sources, while the federal money assigned to them will be switched to other eligible projects, the state says. Projects eligible for the $17.8-million-a-year federal pot include those benefiting pedestrians and bicyclists, historic preservation, landscaping, protection of scenic easements and tourist-welcoming facilities.
The department has also let go of a longtime consultant who was its most visible advocate of wildlife crossings, as part of a broader move to save money on consultants. It also let go its staff supervisor of the crossing projects.