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Wildlife Protection

Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

Featured Project

Turning a Railroad Bed into a Wildlife Crossing

photo of underpass for former railway

Underneath Montana's Interstate 15 south of Helena and Montana City, an abandoned stretch of railroad has been reclaimed for wildlife. And the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) converted the grassy path to a wildlife crossing without having to make a single major improvement. The new crossing is ideal for area wildlife, since it lies between a developing subdivision in the foothills of the Elkhorn Mountains and Prickly Pear Creek--an important wildlife corridor between the Elkhorns and the Continental Divide. The trails on the abandoned railroad path are a hot spot for animal-vehicle collisions, because when deer and other ungulates "pop out" onto I-15 from behind the guardrail on the fill slopes below, drivers often can't see the animals in time. So MDT crews installed 8-foot-high woven wire fencing along the fill slopes and ended it on top of large cut slopes above the highway, where deer trying to cross I-15 can be more easily seen by the traveling public. If a few deer manage to find their way around the end of the fence and become trapped on the highway, two one-way vegetated "jump-outs" offer a convenient escape route. The deer walk up the gently sloping earthen ramp and jump out over a retaining wall to the "safe" side of the fence.

Deb Wambach, (406) 444-0461 or dwambach@mt.gov



Picture of various animals

Doing the right thing - simply

"Keeping it simple" is more than a concept. It's a commitment.

It means using simple solutions when simple solutions will work.

It involves going beyond "compliance" to identify easy ways of helping wildlife and fish.

It means doing the right thing just because it's the right thing to do and because one has an opportunity to do it.

"We can build bat roosts in pre-fab bridge concrete or extend the right-of-way fence to create elkproof fencing," says April Marchese, Director of FHWA's Office of Natural and Human Environment. "Simple measures like these link habitats, reduce roadkill, and save taxpayer dollars."

This website highlights more than 100 simple, successful projects from all 50 states and beyond. Each is "easy." Most are low- or no-cost. All benefit wildlife, fish, or their habitats.

Many projects were completed only once - to protect specific species in specific environmental conditions. Others have been repeated numerous times and have become "routine."

Some projects are undertaken regularly because research has proven them effective. Others are new innovations, "best practices," or state-of-the-art strategies.

Some projects - for example, modifying mowing cycles and installing oversized culverts in streams - are common to a large number of states. Others represent a simple solution to a site-specific environmental challenge.

We invite you to explore them all. We encourage you to find out for yourselves, through this website, how transportation professionals are working with others to do the right thing for wildlife and--wherever possible--to do it "simply."

Updated: 12/12/2012
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