Colorado Department of Transportation Receives $5 million for Wildlife Crossings

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Rocky Mountain States, Assistant Manager

  • Senate Bill 22-151: Safe Crossings For Colorado Wildlife And Motorists was enacted by Governor Polis on June 1, 2022, allocating $5 million to the Colorado Department of Transportation to facilitate completion of high-priority wildlife crossing projects in high-value wildlife habitat that will make the state safer for all by reducing the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been championing SB 22-151 since introduction and commends the state of Colorado for once again being a global leader in conservation and wildlife management. 

Why it Matters: Human development and roads overlap with critical fish and wildlife habitat and bisect important migration routes for numerous wildlife species in Colorado, including its iconic mule deer and elk herds. Every year there are around 14,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions in Colorado, resulting in human injuries and fatalities, and approximately $80 million in property damage, emergency response, medical treatments, and other costs annually. The enactment of SB 22-151 will provide critical resources to address both the wildlife and human safety concerns surrounding high-priority wildlife crossings.

Sportspeople recognize the need to conserve migration corridors, stopover areas and winter range habitats that are critical for the long-term viability of big game species that provide hunting opportunity, particularly in the West. Consistent with this goal are wildlife crossings that include structures such as underpass tunnels, viaducts, and overpasses that allow animals to cross human-made barriers, such as highways, safely. This conservation need was made a priority in the recent passage of the federal Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which specifically authorized $350 million over 5 years to help reduce the estimated one to two million annual wildlife-vehicle collisions across the nation. In addition to increasing human safety on the road, this legislation will help restore habitat connectivity for the species most cherished by sportspeople. One state that has proactively began to capitalize on this recently enacted piece of legislation and associated funding is Colorado.

Human development and roads overlap with critical fish and wildlife habitat and bisect important migration routes for numerous wildlife species in Colorado, including its iconic mule deer and elk herds. Every year there are around 14,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions in Colorado, resulting in human injuries and fatalities, and approximately $80 million in property damage, emergency response, medical treatments, and other costs annually. Furthermore, wildlife-vehicle collisions kill 2% of Colorado’s big game populations, including 9,000 mule deer every year on Colorado roadways.

As previously reported, Senate Bill 22-151: Safe Crossings For Colorado Wildlife And Motorists was introduced to provide much needed funding for addition wildlife crossing projects throughout the state. On June 2, Governor Polis signed SB22-151 into law, allocating $5 million to the Colorado Department of Transportation to facilitate completion of high-priority wildlife crossing projects in high-value wildlife habitat that will make the state safer for all by reducing the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions. As an added bonus, the $5 million allocated can now be utilized as a non-federal match to position Colorado to successfully compete for federal infrastructure grants under the wildlife crossing program established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

CSF, along with several partners on the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project, have been championing this piece of legislation since its introduction to the legislature in early March and commends the Governor Polis for signing this historic piece of legislation.

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