Efforts to get wildlife to use a tunnel under a busy stretch of the 101 Freeway in the West Valley have gotten a boost from state conservation officials.
The state Wildlife Conservation Board has voted to grant $650,000 to help guide animals to an underpass below the 101 in the Liberty Canyon area of Calabasas.
Animals such as mountain lions have been hit by cars as they try to cross the freeway between park land in the Simi Hills to the north and the Santa Monica Mountains to the south.
Environmentalists are working to raise public and private funds to build a new crossing at Liberty Canyon specifically for wildlife. Conservationists say such a crossing is necessary to improve the long-term prospects for mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains. The region's grid of freeways has made cougars there them among the country's most genetically isolated.
In the meantime, the grant from the Conservation Board will be used to remove fencing and improve habitat on both sides of the existing underpass to encourage animals to use it.