This is a piece of old news, but good news, and it reminds us that in the effort to protect people and wildlife on our urbanizing landscape, people can use a variety of tools. Fencing is a cost-effective tool that can go a long way towards protecting wildlife and people from each other when it’s placed appropriately. In this case, fencing was installed along the 241 freeway in Orange County from the 261 to 91 freeways – an important wildlife corridor for cougars, and one that represented an area with high mortality. Since the fence was installed in 2014, there have been no vehicle-wildlife collisions within the project area. The SR-241 Wildlife Protection Fence Project was honored with the Innovative Transportation Solutions award in 2015 by the Orange County chapter of the WTS, an international organization advancing women in transportation planning.
This week, The Indy and Stu News Laguna included news about the corridor in their community news sections. Local publications like this are vital to the success of the important work that gets done around town. We are thankful for all the local support from our community publications and other partners in the area.
Laguna Greenbelt, Inc., is partnering with UC Irvine and students from the UCLA Environmental Science Practicum program to advance the completion and effectiveness of the Coast to Cleveland Wildlife Corridor. When completed, the 6-mile corridor, an ongoing project located in the city of Irvine, will connect 22,000 acres of wild lands in parks along the Laguna Coast to more than 150,000 acres of similar habitats in the foothills and Santa Ana mountains. This is a vital linkage needed for the health of wildlife in the region, which rely on movement between ecosystems to find resources and genetically distinct mates.
On January 15, 2016, Laguna Greenbelt will host a workshop for a graduate student from UCI and a team of six undergraduate students from The UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Sarah Geldmacher, a student in the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning program at UCI, will study the project and make recommendations for the best long-term management strategies for the corridor. Along with Ms. Geldmacher, the six UCLA environmental science students will join the workshop to jumpstart their undergraduate client project. They will potentially examine any barriers to animals moving around the area coastward of the I-5 and will research how the existing corridor segment can be altered to maximize movement of animals away from urban areas and into the coastal and mountain wild lands.
UC Irvine and UCLA have long partnered with local businesses and nonprofit organizations in a variety of fields, from scientific field studies and technology to social work, urban planning, and medicine. Laguna Greenbelt, Inc., is hopeful that collaboration with local students and academic professionals will be a win-win for the participants and the community in Orange County.
The Coast to Cleveland Wildlife Corridor, located in Irvine, California, is a work in progress
envisioned by Laguna Greenbelt, Inc., and supported by a coalition of partners. When completed, it will be unique among corridors in the United States. It will cross lands owned and managed by different entities, and will connect wildlife habitats along the coast to similar habitats in the mountains. Animals use corridors to move between ecosystems in search of resources, places to raise their young, genetically distinct mates, and to escape natural disasters.
Wildlife like native bobcats and cactus wrens will pass through a variety of landscapes as they wind their way over six miles of a huge shopping center, under major freeways, and over green spaces in the foothills approaching the Santa Ana Mountains.
Visit wildlifecorridor.org to learn more about wildlife corridors, and progress on this unique project.