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Road Planning & Design to Protect Wildlife Corridors

Started: May, 2013 Ended: June, 2014 Project ID #4W4429 Status: Completed


The purpose of this project was to develop design recommendations for future road enhancements in key wildlife linkage areas between the Crown of the Continent and the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystems in two counties of northwest Montana.


In this project the Center for Large Landscape Conservation (CLLC), Future West, the Sonoran Institute, and Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute (WTI) investigated the potential impacts of future housing development on traffic to determine where increased traffic from housing development will impact habitat connectivity for large carnivores. The focus of this study was Flathead and Lincoln counties in northwestern Montana. The main goal was to maintain wildlife habitat connectivity across transportation corridors despite the likelihood of future traffic increases. This effort was unique in that it projects development into the future and identifies potential problem sites before the impacts arrive. With foresight and collaborative efforts, the impacts of future development can be mitigated to maintain habitat connectivity within the study area.

The study area has experienced significant growth in the recent past – over 42,000 homes have been built since 1970. If the study area continues to grow at the same annual rate that it grew from 1970-2010, over 57,000 new homes would be built in the next 20 years. In addition to the impacts of those homes on habitat, this growth will generate enormous amounts of new traffic and require future expansion of highway infrastructure, both of which would pose a major threat to wildlife movement and habitat connectivity.


Files & Documents

Sponsors & Partners

  • Sonoran Institute Sponsor
  • Center for Large Landscape Conservation Partner
  • Future West Partner

Part of: Road Ecology

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