Donation Supports Local Mountain Lion Population, Adds to Company’s Ongoing Environmental Stewardship Efforts to Protect Wildlife Corridors
LOS ANGELES — The Boeing Company has made a $1 million donation to the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing. The announcement was made at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, where an exhibit features the famed P-22, the mountain lion who survived after crossing two major freeways and has been living in Griffith Park since 2012. On pace to break ground this year, the wildlife crossing will span over ten lanes of the 101 freeway in the Los Angeles area. This monumental structure will become a global model for urban wildlife conservation and benefit the wildlife and ecology of the area for generations to come.
“We thank Boeing for their long-term partnership and support in helping to make this project a reality, as well as their donations to our important community-based work like Wildlife 2 Watts and building schoolyard habitats,” said Dirk Sellers, chief development officer of the National Wildlife Federation. “As we prepare to break ground on the landmark conservation project this spring, the generous contribution from Boeing leaves the #SaveLACougars campaign with an estimated only $5-10 million left to raise toward construction costs.”
“We are pleased to make this contribution to this historic crossing and are committed to environmental protection and stewardship at all levels, including urban conservation efforts that are often overlooked. This investment demonstrates our ongoing commitment to preserving the unique wild heritage of the area,” said Ziad Ojakli, executive vice president for government operations at the Boeing Company. “Today’s investment demonstrates our ongoing commitment to preserving the unique wild heritage and biodiversity of the area, including the Santa Susana site.”
Boeing has been a steadfast supporter of the National Wildlife Federation in their efforts to preserve the biodiversity of the area. The company has contributed to the wildlife crossing campaign, the long-term mountain lion study in the Santa Monica Mountains, and education outreach efforts that allow students to connect with nature, document the wildlife species that visit their school, and learn about the natural world in an authentic way.
The company’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory sits within a key habitat linkage connecting California’s coast with inland mountain ranges and is home to abundant wildlife, endangered plant species and Native American cultural resources. Wildlife research efforts on the site have recorded 135 bird species, more than 20 reptile and 10 amphibian species, and more than 24 mammal species, including raccoons, deer, coyote, bobcat, foxes, skunks, black bears, bats and mountain lions. The National Park Service has captured and fitted three Santa Susana cats with collars – P-62, P-63 and P-64. NPS also identified the first ever mountain lion den in the Simi Hills at the Santa Susana site, yielding four kittens – P-66, P-67, P-68 and P-69.
“I remember the excitement after capturing on remote camera that first mountain lion on the site,” said Kamara Sams, Santa Susana Field Laboratory program director. “It’s important to our team to do our part in to support this larger wildlife corridor, including establishing pollinator habitats, utilizing citizen scientists for biological and wildlife studies, offering community outreach activities and ensuring contractors receive rare and protected plant species briefings.”
In 2017, Boeing recorded a conservation easement in favor of North American Land Trust (NALT) to permanently preserve and protect Boeing’s nearly 2,400 acres at the Santa Susana site. Boeing is required, through a 2007 consent order with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, to clean up the site so that it meets health standards for wildlife, site visitors and the surrounding community. The easement will ensure the site will continue to be an essential link in connecting open space and providing critical habitat for wildlife in the region.
The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing responds to two decades of study by the National Park Service in the Los Angeles area that has shown roads and development are not only proving deadly for animals trying to cross but have also created islands of habitat that can genetically isolate all wildlife — from bobcats to birds and lizards. This visionary wildlife crossing will preserve biodiversity across the region by re-connecting an integral wildlife corridor, and most critically, help save a threatened local population of mountain lions from extinction. Without intervention, they could vanish from the area within our lifetime. In April of 2020, the California Fish and Game Commission unanimously voted to advance a petition to declare this population of cougars as threatened under the state’s Endangered Species Act for final consideration. As a major green infrastructure project for the state of California, construction for the crossing will generate jobs in the region and economic benefits into the future.
The wildlife crossing is a public-private partnership of monumental scope that has leveraged the expertise and leadership of dozens of organizations and institutions. The core partners include Caltrans, the National Park Service, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy/Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, and the National Wildlife Federation. The project partners also added a world-renowned design team led by a landscape architectural practice, Living Habitats LLC, that collaborates with Caltrans and coordinates with a broad team of wildlife crossing experts in the planning and design development of the wildlife crossing.
To learn more about the #SaveLACougars campaign to build the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing visit https://savelacougars.org/.
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