Taking Back Connectivity
Fifteen years ago, Y2Y co-founder Harvey Locke identified one Canadian highway as a significant barrier to the Yellowstone to Yukon vision – Highway 3.
The east-west thoroughfare, which sees up to 9,000 vehicles per day, cuts the Yellowstone to Yukon landscape in half and makes movement between Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, and Banff and Kootenay national parks almost impossible. Most importantly, it prevents movement through the only viable habitat for keeping populations of grizzly bears, wolverines and other wide-ranging species connected across the border.
"It’s the elephant in the room when it comes to trans-border connectivity," says Y2Y’s President and Chief Scientist, Jodi Hilty. "We can protect wildlife habitat and corridors as much as possible to the north and south of Highway 3, but if animals can’t safely cross it, that’s a major problem."
Because of your belief and support in the Yellowstone to Yukon vision, today we are celebrating the first of many changes to come on Highway 3. We are breaking down this barrier and taking back connectivity.
This fall, signs, ‘jump-outs’, which give animals caught on the highway an escape route, and wildlife fencing, which funnels resident big-horn sheep through an existing underpass, were installed on Highway 3 near Crowsnest Pass, a high-collision site. Led by the Alberta Department of Transportation, and also involving industry, the successful project is a case in point for how to succeed when everyone works toward the same goals.
"This is a fifteen-year dream come true for people who care about wildlife and public safety in this area," says Stephen Legault, Y2Y Program Director. "We are now working with government to address another high-collision stretch further east down the road at Rock Creek."
Good science and long-term partnerships have been the driving force behind this achievement. Key partners include Western Transportation Institute, Miistakis Institute, Anatum Ecological Consulting Ltd., Volker Stevin, Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Transportation and local citizens group, Road Watch in the Pass.
For the past 15 years we have been conducting studies that reveal the cost benefit analysis of road mitigation at particular high-collision spots, while also working with government to make investments in making Highway 3 safer. Local citizens, and fish and wildlife groups have been highly supportive of the project.
These and other projects along Highway 3 show the power of a unifying vision in guiding long-term, collaborative efforts. But most importantly, especially with continental-wildlife connectivity at stake, they set the stage for even more successful projects down the road.
Highway 3 Needs You!
Traveling between Elko, B.C. and the Alberta border? Join RoadWatchBC. This new, free, easy-to-use app lets your passengers track wildlife on Highway 3. The data will help B.C. planners determine the best places to build future crossing structures. We hope this technology will help groups world-wide monitor road-wildlife issues.