CO SH 9 Safety Project Poster Presentation
The 2014 annual meeting of the Colorado Chapter of The Wildlife Society was held in Fort Collins this past week from February 5th-7th. Since science has been, and will continue to be, a critical component of the CO State Highway 9 Safety Improvement Project, a poster presentation was submitted to the conference highlighting both the collaborative nature of the project and the monitoring efforts pre and post construction.
The poster generated a lot of discussion in the halls between symposia, and a few attendees even expressed interest in helping the project financially. As additional information is gathered during and after construction, which is expected to begin next year, the SH 9 Safety Improvement Project will be presented again at future conferences.
The poster’s title and abstract:
The CO State Highway 9 Safety Improvement Project: Collaborative stakeholder involvement in the design, funding and monitoring of wildlife crossings to mitigate animal-vehicle collisions in North Central Colorado
Safe highways are critical for both local communities and local wildlife populations. Colorado State Highway 9 north of I-70 is a major north-south transportation corridor in regional Northwest Colorado. This section of road bisects the Middle Park mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) herd winter range. The 10.6-mile stretch between Green Mountain Reservoir and the town of Kremmling has been witness to 590 vehicle accidents in the 20 years, including 16 fatalities, 36% of which were officially documented as wildlife related. In the last 8 years local wildlife managers documented 455 wildlife-vehicle collisions, mostly mule deer, in this corridor. These statistics fueled an unprecedented cooperative grassroots campaign that secured $36.2 million of funding though the CDOT’s RAMP program. In addition to the highway safety improvements this project includes wildlife fencing, escape ramps, five underpass crossings, and the first two wildlife overpass crossings ever constructed in Colorado. CPW and CDOT hope to work together to monitor the project both pre and post construction using effectiveness monitoring as a research strategy for studying specially designed wildlife crossings to determine success in mitigating wildlife-vehicle collisions while maintaining habitat connectivity. Monitoring methods will include carcass counts and motion-triggered cameras. Efforts are planned to begin fall 2014 and continue for at least 5 years post-construction in order to contribute towards a cost-benefit analysis.
SH 9 Poster – 48X42 (pdf)