Image Source: https://www.latimes.com/
Chalk one up for the cougars.
When conservationists first announced plans to raise $30 million for a wildlife crossing over a deadly 10-lane stretch of the 101 Freeway in Agoura Hills, critics snickered and said “good luck.”
Now, 10 years later, the dream of building a bridge that would help mountain lions escape an “extinction vortex” by providing them safe passage to food and mates is becoming a reality.
On Friday, Earth Day, hundreds of conservationists and legislators gathered with joy and a sense of triumph on a weedy hill overlooking the Liberty Canyon Road exit to break ground on the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing.
“We did it!” shouted Beth Pratt, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation. “For years to come, this wildlife crossing will be admired and studied as proof that humans and wild animals can co-exist,” she said as she raised her voice over the din of traffic streaking past.
With completion scheduled for 2025, the wildlife crossing ranks among the most ambitious apolitical campaigns ever waged in Southern California.
More than 5,000 individuals, foundations, agencies and businesses from around the world contributed expertise and donations that, as of Friday, totaled more than $87 million — including a $25-million challenge grant from Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation.
“What we are doing here today goes beyond conservation,” said Annenberg, who received a standing ovation from the crowd assembled just a stone’s throw from a stretch of freeway that carries 300,000 vehicles each day.