Special Guests Will Celebrate Start of Construction on Largest Wildlife Crossing of its Kind in World, Global Model for Urban Conservation.
LOS ANGELES — The National Wildlife Federation and its partners unveiled today that the landmark ceremony to celebrate the start of construction on the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing will take place on Earth Day — Friday, April 22 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time — in Agoura Hills.
The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing is a public-private partnership of monumental scope that has leveraged the expertise and leadership of dozens of organizations and institutions. It serves as a project for the next century and will provide a lasting benefit to the wildlife and ecology of the area for generations to come. Spanning over ten lanes of the 101 freeway in the Los Angeles area, when complete the crossing will be the largest in the world, the first of its kind in California, and a global model for urban wildlife conservation.
“California’s diverse array of native species and ecosystems have earned the state recognition as a global biodiversity hotspot. In the face of extreme climate impacts, it’s more important than ever that we work together to protect our rich natural heritage. This project will restore vital habitat and enable mountain lions and other wildlife to roam safely. Backed by significant public and philanthropic support, the wildlife crossing is an inspiring example of the kind of collaborative efforts that will help us protect our common home for generations to come,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.
“Wildlife crossings restore ecosystems that had been fractured and disrupted. They reconnect lands and species that are aching to be whole. I believe these crossings go beyond mere conservation, toward a kind of environmental rejuvenation that is long overdue,” said Wallis Annenberg, Chairman, president, and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation.
“This project is truly incredible. As the largest wildlife crossing of its kind in the world, it will provide lifesaving habitat connectivity to a broad array of animals for decades to come. It also shows us what is possible when unique partners come together to think creatively, and then act boldly and decisively. I think we will look back decades from now and realize that this project galvanized a new era of conserving and reconnecting nature,” said Wade Crowfoot, California secretary for natural resources.
“This is a monumental achievement for wildlife preservation and traveler safety. Through the tireless efforts and collaboration amongst the National Wildlife Federation, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, National Park Service, City of Agoura Hills, and other partners, Caltrans is proud to be a partner in making roads safer and populations of wildlife healthier. I am most appreciative of the work and dedication of the entire team that has led to the groundbreaking for the construction of the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing,” said Tony Tavares, director of Caltrans District 7.
The crossing responds to two decades of study by the National Park Service that has shown roads and development are deadly for animals trying to cross and have created islands of habitat that can genetically isolate wildlife, from bobcats to birds and lizards. The 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.
"The groundbreaking marks a significant milestone towards this important wildlife crossing that sets a path towards saving our threatened local mountain lions and supporting the diversity of wildlife in the region," said Jeff Sikich, biologist for the National Park Service, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
“We’re excited to announce the groundbreaking date for this hopeful and inspiring project, said Beth Pratt, California regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation. “We look forward to celebrating-either in person or virtually — with people from all over the world who rallied around our beloved LA cougar hero P-22 and the rest of this threatened mountain lion population to give them a future.”
The groundbreaking ceremony on April 22 will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., and although it is open to the public, space is limited, and registration is required. The ceremony will also be broadcast virtually. A public celebration will follow at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and no registration is required for that event.
For more information about the events or about the #SaveLACougars campaign to build the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing visit https://savelacougars.org/
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