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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Wildlife Protection

Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

Featured Project

Plastic "Toad Wall" Guarantees Safe Trip to Wildlife Crossing

close-up of a boreal toad

Boreal toads (listed as endangered by both Colorado and New Mexico) spend all winter hibernating in the mud. Muddy Pass on State Highway 40, where numerous beaver dams provide the shallow, sun-warmed water and soft mud that the toad requires, has proven so attractive to boreal toads that the Colorado Division of Wildlife released more of the mud-loving little critters into the area in 2000. But SH 40 bisects the water course between ponds, so when work began on improvements to the highway in 2003, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) crews took advantage of the opportunity to build an underpass for the toad and other wildlife species. Next to the underpass they installed a fence specifically for the boreal toad. The fence is made of composite plastic boards instead of chemically treated wood, which would leach small amounts of copper and arsenic into groundwater--a potential "poison" to both the toad and its eggs. Installing the fence was easy. Workers inserted the 2x8 boards into a shallow trench so only 6 inches appeared above ground. To direct the toads to the underpass, they laid the boards out in a "V," making each arm 30 feet long. After the fence was completed, observers noticed fewer toad carcasses on the highway and more egg masses were observed on both sides of the road. When the toads emerge from hibernation this spring, CDOT biologists expect many of them will head for the fence and the underpass.

Jeff Peterson, (303) 512-4959 or

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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