WTI Researcher Matt Madsen, along with the Big Sky Community Organization (BSCO), is spearheading a traffic calming project in the heart of Big Sky, Montana. Madsen describes the upcoming project in the Explore Big Sky article “Traffic calming project set for Ousel Falls Road,” as well as participation opportunities for interested community members. “Community engagement with these projects is very important, especially because traffic calming will be in high-traffic areas,” said Madsen. “We want people to be aware of what is going on, and the reasons behind it.”
Wildlife Connectivity and Animal-Vehicle Collision Reduction Project Sparking Public Interest
Online news organization Explore Big Sky highlighted WTI’s $1.2 million dollar wildlife connectivity and animal-vehicle collision mitigation project, TPF-5, in multiple March publications. The articles include comments from WTI Executive Director David Kack, Researcher Matthew Bell, and Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament on the scope and impact of the research and reports.
Read Wildlife crossings don’t have to be so pricyhere.
Read Montana State University releases reports on wildlife crossing structureshere.
Dr. Marcel Huijser Interviewed on A New Angle Podcast
WTI’s Dr. Marcel Huijser shared his story during an interview on A New Angle, a UM podcast “about cool people doing awesome things in and around Montana.” He discussed his initial interest in nature, his move to the U.S., and his entry into the field of road ecology.
Dr. Huijser described the interactions of vehicles and roadways with wildlife, noting that roads are some of the largest land-users in the U.S. and have a significant impact on animal populations for miles around. While animal-vehicle collisions (AVCs) are highly visible (how many dead deer did you see on your drive to work today?), the results of the barrier effect are less so – but just as important. Listen to Dr. Huijser address animal-road interactions and the restorative solutions still available to Montana’s people and animals on the The New Angle website or Montana Public Radio.
Rob Ament Presents the Economics of Animal Crossing Infrastructure
WTI Road Ecology Program Manger Rob Ament was highlighted in the February 24 issue of the Bozeman Daily Chronical article Experts weight costs, benefits of wildlife crossings at Bozeman talk. It covered his presentation on the economic arguments for wildlife crossing infrastructure along the U.S. Highway 191 corridor, which “have been proven effective in improving public safety and habitat connectivity in other states and countries.” Held at Grace Lutheran Church in Bozeman, the talk was attended by over 100 people. Part of a series organized by Gallatin Valley Earth Day Festival Committee, the talk will be followed by more events around the theme “Celebrating and Supporting Wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – the last best wildlife habitat in the lower 48.”
GoGallatin Program Manager Highlighted in Mass Transit Magazine
Earlier this month, WTI Research Associate Matthew Madsen discussed the role of trip planning in a Mass Transit Magazine article about Whitefish, Montana’s plan to reduce transportation emissions. Madsen, who is also the GoGallatin Program Manager, presented to the City on a potential partnership with the trip planning platform, “[GoGallatin] is one tool that we can put in the toolbox.”
WTI Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament shared his expertise on last month’s Montana PBS Reports: IMPACT Ep. 6, which examined the problem of animal-vehicle collisions on the Nation’s roadways. Growing citizen concern and new funding opportunities through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) are facilitating the construction of highly effective wildlife crossing structures. Rob discusses the ecological, economic, and safety benefits of these crossing structures, including the incorporation of Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) materials and evolving public sentiment towards wild animals.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that the City of Bozeman has received a planning grant from the Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities. “Bozeman partners with HRDC to hire part-time help for parks planning” describes the collaboration between the City, the Human Resources Development Council, and WTI to gain more input from the public on park and trail access. The grant funds will be used to hire community liaisons who will seek to document the needs of local populations that have been underrepresented in planning discussions in the past. Ultimately, the public feedback will be used to update the City’s parks, recreation, open space and trails plan and an “active transportation” plan.
WTI assisted with the development and submittal of the grant application and will provide technical assistance and training to liaisons, HRDC, and the City of Bozeman.
The New York Times has posted an online feature article highlighting excellent footage of wildlife using various forms of highway crossings. “How Do Animals Safely Cross a Highway? Take a Look” includes footage of a herd of antelope crossing a highway in Wyoming; moose, bear, wolves and deer using crossings in Utah; and an alligator and panther using underground passages in Florida. WTI Road Ecologist Marcel Huijser was interviewed for the article in which he discusses that despite the upfront installation costs, wildlife crossings yield significant safety and conservation benefits that save money in the long run. Whisper Camel-Means, a tribal wildlife program manager who collaborated with WTI on US 93 wildlife crossing projects in Montana, was also interviewed for the article.
Stormwater Magazine recently interviewed WTI Road Ecologist Rob Ament on advancements in the use of environmentally friendly products for erosion control. “Saving Mowers and Wildlife” highlights state departments of transportation that are working to replace plastic netting used on roadsides with flexible, biodegradable options. In the article, state DOTs report benefits such as reduced need for removal and disposal of nets, less risk of water contamination, and fewer animals becoming entangled. Ament discusses his research on wool erosion control blankets, which are created from waste wool not suitable for clothing or blanket production. The wool erosion blankets release nitrogen into the soil as they decompose and are showing promising results related to fertilization of the sites where they are used.
As part of its “Transformation Tuesday” series, the National Park Service (NPS) profiled three fellows from the Public Lands Transportation Fellows (PLTF) program who are currently serving NPS units or projects. PLTF Fellows are assigned to a federal land unit for one to two years, where they lead or support projects that enhance transportation options for visitors. Within the 2020 PLTF class, three Fellows are serving the NPS. (Read the full article on the NPS website.)
Public Policy magazine In These Times recently interviewed WTI Road Ecologist Marcel Huijser for an in-depth article on wildlife crossings. “Toward a World Without Roadkill” highlights efforts by residents and local organizations near Great Smoky Mountains National Park to reduce the rising number of bears, deer, and elk being hit by vehicles on Interstate 40. Marcel discusses how mitigation efforts such as wildlife crossings can have significant conservation, safety, and economic benefits.