February 24, 2014

Conservancy Votes Grant for Wildlife Corridor

Monday, February 24:

At a meeting held at Agoura High School on Monday night, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy voted to authorize a grant of $200,000 from Proposition 40 funds to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA)  for project planning and design related to the development of a Caltrans Project Study Report (PSR) and subsequent environmental review for wildlife crossing structures at the 101 freeway at Liberty Canyon. The vote came after a field trip and detailed presentation led by State Senator Fran Pavley, describing the site and the potential routes for construction of an overpass or tunnel. Senator Pavley also detailed interim steps to improve the existing passage under the freeway at Liberty Canyon Road until a overpass or tunnel could be built. A number of speakers addressed the Conservancy, all speaking in favor of the project.

A wildlife crossing in Canada
The Liberty Canyon area is the last remaining place where a habitat linkage between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Simi Hills can be made. The link is vital to preserve bio-diversity and the long term health of larger mammals like the mountain lion. It will take a year to complete the PSR, which sets the baseline for Caltrans to move forward with environmental clearance and engineering. A PSR looks at alternatives, most likely a tunnel and an overpass option. In the interim, all of the involved agencies are working to maximize the function of the existing Liberty Canyon Road underpass.