IN THE NEWS: Montana State University Highlights Two Decades of Wildlife Crossings Research

car on a rural highway approaching a wildlife overpass in mountainous region

In a follow-up to last week’s New York Times article, Montana State University News published a feature article summarizing WTI’s long history of researching and advancing wildlife crossing structures.

Starting with the first report to Congress on wildlife vehicle collisions in 2006, the article also highlights WTI’s long-term research on the effectiveness of wildlife crossing structures on US 93 in Montana and on the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park.  In addition, the article mentions WTI’s collaborative workshops to develop innovative materials and designs for the next generation of crossing structures.

IN THE NEWS: City of Bozeman Awarded Grant for Park and Trail Planning

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.

IN THE NEWS: New York Times Showcases Video of Wildlife Using Crossings

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.

IN THE NEWS: Embracing Biodegradable Erosion Control

Erosion control blankets installed on hillside in Idaho 2018

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.

NPS Introduces Fellows on Transformation Tuesday

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.)

Outdoor headshot of Fellow Ma'ayan Dembo
Ma’ayan Dembo. Focus: Transit/Accessibility. NPS Unit: Glacier National Park
Outdoor photo of Patrick McMahon with backpack 2021
Patrick McMahon. Focus: Climate Change. NPS Units: Alaska National Parks
Outdoor headshot of Fellow Charlie Gould 2021
Charlie Gould. Focus: Emerging Technologies. NPS Unit: Yellowstone National Park

IN THE NEWS: Reducing Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions in Appalachia

Marcel Huijser

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.

IN THE NEWS: High Country News Reports on Montana Passenger Rail

Outdoor portrait of David Kack in 2020

In a recent article, High Country News provides an update on the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority, a Montana coalition that is working to revive a passenger rail line that would span 600 miles across the state.   “Montana Counties Band Together to Reinvigorate Passenger Rail” summarizes efforts to secure local, state and federal support, as well as funding, to restore Amtrak service that would connect residents to some of the larger cities in the state, including Missoula, Bozeman, and Billings.  WTI Director David Kack was interviewed for the article, discussing how rail service can provide valuable mobility options for people in rural towns who can no longer drive or who lack access to a vehicle.

NEW NAME, NEW CHALLENGE: The Bozeman Commuter Project Has Rebranded

Join the GoGallatin MSU Commuter Challenge this week

2021 graphic logo for Gallatin Commuter Project

In October, WTI was awarded an Office of Outreach & Engagement Seed grant to begin a rebrand of the existing Bozeman Commuter Project. Four Montana State University students are working with WTI project lead Matt Madsen as a collaborative team to move the project forward (stay tuned to learn more about all the students!). The goal of the project was to create a more encompassing program, now rebranded as the Gallatin Commuter Project and GoGallatin. The existing BozemanCommute platform has become GoGallatin and provides all the same ride tracking, carpool options, transit schedules and other transportation demand management solutions.

2021 graphic logo for GO Gallatin

To kick off the rebrand, The Gallatin Commuter Project is sponsoring the GoGallatin MSU Campus Commuter Challenge. This year’s challenge is open to all students and staff at MSU and runs from April 5th – 11th. Join this campus-wide event (and invite your friends), then start commuting this week via biking, walking, taking the bus, carpooling, scootering, roller-blading, even pogo-sticking!

How Does it Work? By tracking your commute trips, you can be in the running for gift cards to local businesses. Once registered, track your commute as an individual or part of a team by joining or creating a team of your MSU colleagues, peers, and/or community members. If you need help, send us an email at gallatincommute@montana.edu To see how your team is stacking up against other teams in a friendly competition, you can keep an eye of the leaderboard!

Rewards and incentives: Every participant who logs 2 trips during the week will be entered into a drawing for gift cards to various local restaurants and businesses! You can win a gift card to one of these fine establishments:

  • Bangtail Bikes
  • Bridger Brewing
  • Columbo’s Pizza
  • Essy’s
  • International Coffee Traders

Registration Register on the Gallatin Commuter Project Platform at: https://bozemancommute.org/#/ to create an account, join a team, and log your commute trips! Faculty and Staff can register as part of the MSU Network; students can register as a part of the MSU Students Network. Want to join the WTI team? Follow this link to join: https://bozemancommute.org/s/western-transportation-wd.  More information is also available on the MSU Events page.

IN THE NEWS: TRB Highlights Interview with WTI Cold Climates Researcher

Laura Fay -WTI Research Scientist

The impact of extreme weather on transportation systems and infrastructure was the focus of a recent feature article by the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board. In “Preparing for Winter Weather with Transportation Resources,” TRB interviewed WTI Research Scientist and Cold Climates Program Manager Laura Fay about the importance of prevention in the winterization process.  Fay, who serves on TRB’s Standing Committee on Winter Maintenance, discussed how good prevention for maintaining roads starts with road design and continues with the decisions made before, during, and after a storm hits.

The article also highlights several of Fay’s studies, including a recent Transportation Research Record journal article she co-authored on friction and snow pavement bonds, and an NCHRP synthesis project she led on strategies to mitigate the impacts of chloride roadway deicers.

ON THE AIR: Road Ecologist Highlights Wildlife Crossing Structures Advancements

Head shot of Rob Ament

On February 25, Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament was a guest on Top of Mind with Julie Rose, a BYU Radio program. For a feature segment on wildlife crossings, Rob discussed how crossing structures are designed, how they make roads safer for both animals and motorists, and where the newest structures are being built, both in the U.S. and globally.  The full Wildlife Crossings interview is available to stream on the BYU Radio website.