Research Update – Are Wyoming Deer and Antelope Using Existing Underpasses to Cross Highways?

WTI is conducting a research on behalf of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) to explore mitigation options for reducing wildlife vehicle collisions along Interstate 25 in central Wyoming.  WYDOT and WGFD would like to explore the possibility of funneling large mammals, particularly mule deer and pronghorn, through the existing underpasses on this section of road rather than building new ones specifically designed for wildlife.

As one of the research steps, project researchers Marcel Huijser, Amanda Warren, and Elizabeth Fairbank collected preliminary data on wildlife use of existing structures under I-25 which were not originally designed for wildlife. Based on an eight-month monitoring effort in 2018-2019, the research team found that the structures are predominantly used by mule deer and white-tailed deer, but almost never by pronghorn.  More details are available in the interim report (“Preliminary Data on Wildlife Use of Existing Structures along I-25, Kaycee, Wyoming, USA”), which was recently published and is available on the project page of the WTI website.

Developing Scenic Bikeways in Rural Areas: New Resource Available

Cyclist travels along a curve on a mountainous highwayCould a scenic bikeway attract more bicycle tourists to the parks, historic sites and other attractions in your area? Is your agency responsible for operating and maintaining a rural road where a bikeway is proposed? A new resource is now available that can help agencies that oversee rural roads develop safe routes that enhance bicycle travel networks.

Designating Scenic Bikeways: A Framework for Rural Road Owners is a U.S. Federal Highway Administration toolkit developed by WTI, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Association of Oregon Counties. This toolkit is intended not only to help Oregon agencies navigate the scenic bikeways designation process, but to assist other land management agencies, road owners, and bicycle proponent groups to work together to develop bikeways.

Resources in this guide will help project partners to:

  • Identify and discuss key factors for making decisions about bikeway designations,
  • Address common concerns such as safety, liability, funding and maintenance,
  • Communicate effectively with bicycle groups, road owners and the public, and
  • Follow a clear process for developing bikeway designation programs.

“As bicycle travel and tourism continue to grow in popularity across the country, more communities are working to attract bicycle tourists to spend money in their area,” said Principal Investigator Rebecca Gleason; “At the same time, agencies that oversee these rural roads are concerned about the safety of people biking on roads that may have active logging and that lack maintenance funds. We hope this new resource will help balance the opportunities presented by scenic bikeways with the concerns of the agencies responsible for operating and maintaining these rural roads.”

Designating Scenic Bikeways: A Framework for Rural Road Owners is available on the project page of the WTI website.

New Publication: How do wildlife fencing and crossing structures affect small mammals?

While wildlife fencing and crossing structures have been shown to reduce the effect of roads on medium and large animals, less is known about how these structures affect the movements of small mammals.  The Canadian Journal of Zoology has published “Factors affecting the permeability of road mitigation measures to the movement of small mammals,” an article by Adam Ford and WTI Research Scientist Tony Clevenger, based on research they conducted on four small mammal species along the Trans-Canada Highway Corridor in Banff National Park.  The article includes recommendations for culvert design and maintenance to promote usage of these structures by small mammal species to cross highways.

Citation: Ford, Adam T. and Clevenger, Anthony P. Factors affecting the permeability of road mitigation measures to the movement of small mammals. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 2019, 97(4): 379-384, https://doi.org/10.1139/cjz-2018-0165

MSU News Highlights New Book on Traffic Safety Culture

Thank you, Montana State University News, for your feature article on the new Traffic Safety Culture book. MSU News interviewed CHSC Director Nic Ward for “MSU Researcher Co-authors Book on New Approach to Traffic Safety,” which was featured on the MSU News website. “It’s a new way of looking at an old problem,” said Ward; “Traffic safety has traditionally looked at engineering, enforcement and education as a way to make drivers behave safely. Because most crashes are the result of driver behavior, it is imperative to understand how culture influences driver behavior.”

Traffic Safety Culture: Definition, Foundation, and Application includes major contributions by the staff of the Center for Health and Safety Culture.  CHSC Director Nic Ward was one of the three book editors and co-authored several chapters. Center staff and affiliated Montana State University faculty who also co-authored book chapters include Jay Otto, Kari Finley, Kelly Green, Eric Austin, and William Schell.  (Legal disclaimer: Editors receive a royalty payment from the publisher.)

NEW PUBLICATION: CHSC Staff Contribute to New Book on Traffic Safety Culture

In April, Emerald Publishing released a new reference book entitled Traffic Safety Culture: Definition, Foundation, and Application, which includes major contributions by the staff of the Center for Health and Safety Culture.  CHSC Director Nic Ward was one of the three book editors and co-authored several chapters. Center staff and affiliated Montana State University faculty who also co-authored book chapters include Jay Otto, Kari Finley, Kelly Green, Eric Austin, and William Schell.  (Legal disclaimer: Editors receive a royalty payment from the publisher.)

Citation: Ward, N., Watson, B., and Fleming-Vogl, K (Eds.). (2019). Traffic Safety Culture: Definition, Foundation, and Application. Bingley (UK): Emerald Publishing.

https://books.emeraldinsight.com/page/detail/Traffic-Safety-Culture/?k=9781787146181

 

NEW PUBLICATION: Idaho Barn Owl Study Explores High Rates of Road Mortality

Ibis, an international journal of avian science, has published an article based on a WTI Road Ecology project in Idaho.  “Spatial, road geometric and biotic factors associated with Barn Owl mortality along an interstate highway” studied the high rates of collisions between Barn Owls and vehicles on Interstate 84 in Southern Idaho.  It stems from a WTI project on potential mitigation options for reducing vehicle collisions with barn owls, which was a collaborative research effort among WTI, Boise State University, Murdock Charitable Trust, Federal Highway Administration, Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho EPSCoR.  Angela Kociolek served as the Principal Investigator.

Citation: Arnold, E. M., Hanser, S. E., Regan, T. , Thompson, J. , Lowe, M. , Kociolek, A. and Belthoff, J. R. (2019), Spatial, road geometric and biotic factors associated with Barn Owl mortality along an interstate highway. Ibis, 161: 147-161. doi:10.1111/ibi.12593

WTI Wildlife Crossings Projects featured in Smokies Life

Smokies Life, the magazine of the Great Smoky Mountains Association, has published a pictorial feature and in-depth article on wildlife collisions. “Right of Way: Roads Need Overhaul to Decrease Collisions” includes an interview with WTI Road Ecologist Marcel Huijser about his 20 years of research on the effectiveness of wildlife crossing structures.  The article also features a number of Marcel’s personal photos from the U.S. 93 wildlife crossings project in Montana.

Aviation Journal Highlights Aviation Weather Portal project

The State Aviation Journal recently published a feature article on the benefits of an aviation weather and travel tool developed by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and WTI.  “Caltrans Continues to Emphasize Value of Aviation Weather and Travel Portal” describes the Aviation Weather Information (AWI) portal, which links dozens of commonly used (official) aviation weather websites into one location, providing easy access to key flight-related weather conditions (such as wind speed and visibility), pilot reports and airport data. The article mentions how the portal has been very useful to emergency services agencies in California during earthquake and mudslide events.  The tool grew out of a multi-phase research collaboration between Caltrans and WTI, dating back to 2007 and led by Principal Investigator, Doug Galarus.  More information about the project is available on the Caltrans AWI website or on WTI’s Integration of Aviation AWOS with RWIS project webpage.

New Publication: Arctic Grayling Research featured in Journal of Ecohydraulics

Installing effective fish passage structures that provide connectivity for Arctic grayling is a promising conservation strategy for imperiled populations. The Journal of Ecohydraulics has published a study by Road Ecology researcher Matt Blank and several colleagues, which examined the swimming behavior of grayling from Montana in an open-channel flume.  The results “provide some of the first published information on swimming abilities of grayling from the Missouri River basin.”

The research is a collaboration among WTI, the MSU Department of Civil Engineering, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and Wild Rivers Consulting, and one of several projects the partners have conducted together at the Bozeman Fish Technology Center. More information about grayling research is available on the WTI website, and more information about the collaborative research program is available on the MSU Fish Passage webpage.

Citation: David R. Dockery, Erin Ryan, Kevin M. Kappenman & Matt Blank (2019): Swimming performance of Arctic grayling (Thymallusarcticus Pallas) in an open-channel flume, Journal of Ecohydraulics, DOI: 10.1080/24705357.2019.1599306