Legislation Also Includes $6.25 Billion to Support Transportation Infrastructure Resilience
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Wildlife Federation and the Association of Northwest Steelheaders heralded Representatives Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) for securing critical investments to reduce often-fatal wildlife-vehicle collisions and support wildlife migration and mobility in an infrastructure package the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee marked up this week. The organizations also applauded the bill’s substantial investments in clean energy and transportation infrastructure that will curb climate-altering emissions and improve community resilience to extreme weather.
“When wildlife come to highways and roads, it’s a matter of life and death — for people and the wildlife alike. Thanks to Congressman Huffman and Chairman DeFazio for allocating funding to improve wildlife crossings to prevent often-fatal collisions and ensure everyone can migrate safely — whether by car, truck, hoof or paw,” said Mike Leahy, director of wildlife, hunting and fishing policy at the National Wildlife Federation. “This bill is an important step forward in modernizing our transportation infrastructure and making serious progress on climate.”
The legislation allots $300 million the National Wildlife Federation championed for wildlife crossings to reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve habitat connectivity through wildlife overpasses, expanded culverts under roads and other strategies. According to U.S. Department of Transportation, the costs associated with wildlife-vehicle collisions is upward of $8 billion annually. Research shows that wildlife crossing structures that guide animals over or under our nation’s highways are highly effective, reducing wildlife vehicle collisions by up to 97 percent.
"With adequate funding, we can redress the barriers that are hastening the extinction of migrating wildlife populations, such as salmon and steelhead, which hold enormous economic value for the state of Oregon as well," said Chris Hager, executive director of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders.
The National Wildlife Federation also welcomed measures in the legislation package that would establish a new carbon pollution reduction program at the Department of Transportation, provide billions of dollars in funding for transit, trails and electric buses and vehicle charging, plus create a $6.25 billion pre-disaster mitigation program to increase the resilience of our transportation infrastructure. This includes the use of protective natural infrastructure features. Importantly, the new program would require investments to be based on vulnerability assessments that account for future climate conditions, and would prioritize investments that assist vulnerable, at-risk or transit-dependent populations.
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