WYDOT receives $14.5M federal grant for wildlife crossing project
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Department of Transportation will receive a $14.5 million federal grant from the U.S Department of Transportation for a wildlife crossing project north of La Barge in southwest Wyoming.
The Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant for the Dry Piney wildlife crossing project will be used for underpasses, fencing and related improvements along a 19-mile stretch of U.S. 189 between La Barge and Big Piney.
“Wyoming has demonstrated leadership in protecting wildlife as they migrate,” Gov. Mark Gordon said. “Similar efforts the state has engaged in have not only benefited wildlife, but saved motorists as well. Projects like this one draw national attention to our state’s efforts to support wildlife health, and also open the door for federal funding of similar projects.”
The crossings and fencing will provide a safer means of travel for motorists while ensuring wildlife can continue to use historic migration routes.
“This grant will enable us to continue our work on the Dry Piney project, which will help us reduce vehicle-wildlife collisions on our roads,” said WYDOT Director Luke Reiner. “This project is important to Wyoming because it will improve highway safety for all.”
The Dry Piney project will help the Wyoming Range mule deer herd, as well as pronghorn and moose movement.
“Wildlife is valuable to Wyoming, and this project is an investment that helps preserve the historic migration of many big game species,” said Brian Nesvik, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Departmentd. “Underpasses, coupled with fencing, can reduce crashes by 80-90% and ensure animals can safely cross roads to get to seasonal ranges.”
The total cost of all phases of the project is expected to be between $12 and $36.5 million.
“This funding will help us keep Wyoming’s roads safer for everyone,” said WYDOT Chief Engineer Shelby Carlson. “WYDOT, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and other stakeholders have been studying this issue and have identified several areas in the state where improvements need to be made. Dry Piney is one of those areas and this grant will help us make those vital improvements.”
WYDOT workers will be another beneficiary of the Dry Piney project. The crossing will increase worker safety because there will be less carcass cleanup due to collisions.
Projects like Dry Piney demonstrate how WYDOT, other state agencies and other stakeholders can collaborate to improve wildlife, motorist and worker safety.
In addition to the $14.5 million BUILD grant, the Wyoming Transportation Commission and the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission both contributed $1.25 million for a total of $2.5 million toward the Dry Piney project.
WYDOT will also receive other funding for wildlife conservation projects. A Casper-area family recently donated $25,000 toward wildlife-vehicle collision mitigation, and other donations are in the works. ❖