The Santa Monica Mountains are a rare juxtaposition of nature and urban development — a place where millions of humans can walk the same paths used by wild animals such as mountain lions.
That coexistence has not been balanced, however, and resident wildlife populations have become increasingly genetically isolated — cut off from access to other wild lands by highways and housing. Inbreeding is widespread within the population of Santa Monica Mountain cougars, which are now among the most genetically isolated in the country.
Conservationists have long called for a safe passageway for animals to cross into and out of the mountain range. Several attempts have been made to plan a tunnel under the 101 Freeway. All have failed.
Now, an even more grand-scale idea for a crossing has captured public and political support and has made it the furthest of any proposed project yet. Project leaders on Thursday released initial plans and cost estimates for a 165-foot wide and 200-foot long overpass that would cross the 10 lanes of the 101 Freeway at Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills.
Seth Riley, Wildlife Ecologist, National Park Service and Adjunct Associate Professor, University of California, Los Angeles Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Lauren Wonder, Chief of Media Relations & Public Affairs at Caltrans District 7
Robert Rock, Senior Associate, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., a landscape architecture firm based in New York. The firm is working with several different agencies in Canada and the U.S. on similar wildlife crossings