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

CHSC Announces Summer Webinars

The Center for Health and Safety Culture will host webinars in July and August, based on two of their research and community outreach projects:

Exploring Law Enforcement Attitudes and Beliefs About Traffic Safety Enforcement

July 8, 2019 from 1–2pm MDT

This webinar will summarize the results of a recent project to better understand how the culture within law enforcement agencies impacts engagement in traffic safety enforcement. The project is sponsored by the Traffic Safety Culture Pooled Fund Program hosted by the Montana Department of Transportation.

Reducing Problem Gambling in Oregon

Aug 27, 2019 from 10am – 11am MDT

This webinar will showcase a partnership between the Center for Health and Safety Culture and the Oregon Health Authority that focused on reducing problem gambling throughout Oregon. Join this webinar to hear how this partnership formed, view the tools that were developed, and learn how they’re being used today to reduce problem gambling across the state.

To learn more about and register for both webinars, visit the CHSC webinar page.

Online and On the Radio: Road Ecologists Interviewed on Wildlife Crossings

The business website Quartz (www.qz.com) has published a feature article on the international use of wildlife crossing structures.  “Wildlife overpasses that protect animals are spreading globally” discusses WTI Road Ecologist Tony Clevenger’s findings on the types of crossings preferred by different species of animals, based on his research on the Trans-Canada Highway.  It also mentions Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament’s efforts to help countries like Bhutan to start using wildlife crossings to protect species like Asian elephants.

Interested in hearing Tony Clevenger speak on wildlife overpasses in more detail?  Check out his radio interview from last week with Marcus Smith on BYU radio, entitled “Highway overpasses paved with grass, rocks and trees save lives.”

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

Transportation Voucher Program wins National Award

Image of the front cover of a report called Deep East Texas Council of Governments Transportation Voucher Program Final ReportThe Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) Transportation Voucher Program has been selected for a 2019 Excellence in Regional Transportation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO).  DETCOG and the Area Agency on Aging launched the pilot program in 2018 to provide monthly vouchers to seniors in five counties to pay for rides to medical appointments, shopping trips, and social events.

WTI, in partnership with the National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation and the USDA, provided technical assistance to help create and launch the program.  The project was a team effort by Principal Investigator David Kack, who spearheaded the partnership with NADO; Project Manager Natalie Villwock-Witte, who worked closely with Laura Fay to develop the program framework, conducted outreach to potential program participants, and analyzed the use of the program; and Neil Hetherington, who created numerous original training and promotion materials. “It’s rewarding to develop an effective public transportation program for a rural area where there are so few travel options,” Natalie noted; “it’s even more gratifying when you find out that it’s making a real difference in the lives of residents who may use the program to go buy fresh, healthy food or to connect with friends and family.”

NADO is a Washington, DC-based association that promotes programs and policies to strengthen local governments, communities, and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery, and comprehensive strategies.  The Excellence in Regional Transportation Awards showcase organizations for noteworthy projects and practices in rural and small metropolitan transportation planning, program delivery, and special initiatives.  Winners will receive their awards at the 2019 National Regional Transportation Conference in June.

The DETCOG project page on the WTI website includes more information on the project and a link to the final report.

WTI explores alternative transportation options in Whitefish, Montana

Last week, the Whitefish Pilot reported on efforts by the town of Whitefish, Montana to address growing congestion in its downtown area.  WTI is conducting an alternative transportation study to evaluate transportation and transit issues that impact parking in the downtown core.  Principal Investigators David Kack and Laura Fay have conducted commuter surveys to determine the number of downtown workers who are driving solo, carpooling, and taking the bus.  The findings will be used to explore alternative transportation pilot projects and develop the downtown parking plan.  The Whitefish Pilot article is available on the newspaper’s website.

New Report: National Key Deer Refuge – Strategies for Reducing Wildlife Vehicle Collisions

WTI has released a new report investigating Key Deer mortality along a segment of Highway 1 within the National Key Deer Refuge in Florida. Road Ecologists Marcel Huijser and James Begley found that 75% of all reported mortalities in this area were related to collisions with vehicles.  The team also investigated and mapped how the locations of collision “hotspots” have changed since the installation of wildlife fencing, underpasses, and deer guards. The final report (“Exploration of opportunities to reduce Key Deer Mortality along US Highway 1 and other roads, National Key Deer Refuge, Florida, USA”) summarizes the pros and cons of eight different strategies aimed at reducing collisions with Key Deer on Highway 1.

The National Key Deer Refuge final report is now available on the WTI website.  This research effort is part of a technical support contract for National Wildlife Refuges, which encompasses projects at refuges across the country.

New Report: Wildlife Mitigation Measures for Refuges in Chesapeake Bay

Bridge and causeway through Chicoteague Bay, Chincoteague Island, Virginia, USAWTI Road Ecologists Marcel Huijser and James Begley have completed recommendations for reducing wildlife road mortalities on highways that serve two national wildlife refuges along the coast of Virginia.  “Exploration of Wildlife Mitigation Measures for the Roads through and around Fisherman Island and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuges in Virginia,” now available on the WTI website, includes specific recommendations for enhancing barriers, culverts, fencing and other methods to reduce vehicle collisions with several species of concern, including the diamondback terrapin (turtle) and the Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel.