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Construction on world's largest wildlife crossing hits big milestone: 'We're reconnecting and restoring habitats'

"This crossing will play such an important role in saving our mountain lion population."

"This crossing will play such an important role in saving our mountain lion population."

Photo Credit: Annenberg Foundation

The world's largest wildlife crossing completed construction on its first girders in May. It will allow animals to pass over an eight-lane freeway safely.

According to Good News Network, after eight years of raising funds for the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing and two years of foundational work, the 210-foot-long crossing is making progress in Los Angeles. The crossing will allow animals to safely cross between the Simi Hills of the Santa Susana mountain range and the Santa Monica Mountains. 

Three thousand corporate, private, and philanthropic institutions donated worldwide, and Wallis Annenberg and her foundation donated $25 million in 2021 to raise the $92 million in funding needed to build the bridge, the outlet reported. 

The first girders were placed in April, with the beams weighing between 126 and 140 tons, GNN reported. These will help support the bridge so the animals can safely cross it.

This conservation effort will protect both animals and humans. Each year, about one million to two million accidents occur between vehicles and large animals. These collisions cause about 26,000 human injuries and 200 deaths, totaling at least $8 billion in damages, per the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Animal crossings have been proven to be effective. For example, Arizona has built 20 or more corridors, reducing animal-related collisions by 90% in the central part of the state, as National Geographic reported. 

The goal of this crossing is also to protect the local mountain lion population. CBS News reported that one LA mountain lion, P-22, wandered around Griffith Park before somehow crossing two freeways and eventually dying alone with no mate.

Biologists are worried about the small mountain lion population and its possibility of extinction, per CBS. This crossing will widen the possible mates so that they can extend their population. By joining the two habitats, other animals can also find more mates.

The crossing will also provide coyotes, lizards, deer, and bobcats safe passage, per Good News Network.

Beth Pratt, the California Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation, said in a news release, "This structure is a testament to us all wanting a future for wildlife and mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains."

Wildlife plays a critical role in protecting the environment. When there is a balance between plants and animals, they purify the air, maintain the soil, keep the water clean, regulate the temperature, stop outbreaks like COVID-19, provide humans with food, and recycle nutrients, as Greenpeace reported. 

Governor Gavin Newsom said in a press release, "With projects like this, we're reconnecting and restoring habitats so future generations can continue to enjoy California's unmatched natural beauty."

Lindsey P. Horvath, a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in the third district, celebrated the construction beginning on Instagram: "This crossing will play such an important role in saving our mountain lion population and making it safer for wildlife to thrive in our backyard."

Editor's note: A previous version of this article said the project "broke ground" in April 2024, but it's the placing of the first girders that began that month. The project's foundational construction began in 2022.

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