WOLF CREEK a stretch of Interstate 5 near Wolf Creek could become Southern Oregon's first motorway project designed with wildlife in mind.
A biologist Oregon Department of Fish and wildlife is working with the Oregon Department of Transportation to help incorporate animal-friendly features in an upcoming expansion plans and cars so critters can avoid each other in this area known for roadkill.
Innovations include cradles that migration of deer and elk can more easily see through; roadside clearing brush to keep the deer and foxes from dashing in the paths of vehicles; drainage well adapted slightly so snails are most suited to wiggle through, along with other strictly constructed as galleries of animals.
These small tweaks could improve the free flow of animals of all types passed a rut which may disrupt animal migrations and create dangerous interactions for motorists.
It makes the highway more permeable and improve the permeability of a road just a little can make a difference, says Simon Wray, link ODFW s with ODOT project.
The consequences could be disastrous.
Statistics show that average costs of animals-vehicle collision between $ 2,500 and $ 3,000 to correct.
And the main highways not only cause death of the animals through collision, they can also block of suitable habitat and animals over time affect migratory animal genetics all because some animals become chicken while crossing the street.
We're not just talking about deer here, Wray says. From snails of Elk. These help the animals of all stripes.
While other States have seen the massive and expensive land bridges or underpasses, designed to facilitate the free flow of wildlife, Oregon has had a few projects of wildlife-friendly highway.
Unlike fish-passage requirements for roads that cross the streams, Oregon has no law requiring the critter-friendly step for roads except where there's potential for impacts on animals threatened or endangered.
Oregon's only projects to date have a stretch of Highway 97 near bend altered to improve migration mule deer and a piece of Highway 244 near Elgin altered for Lynx, Wray says.
Then along came Jumpoff Joe Glendale flooring and climbing lanes, ODOT's next draft ripavimentare 14 miles of freeway between Glendale and Hugo.
The project of 49,5 million, which is scheduled for 2013, includes adding a climbing lane a slow lane for about two miles long trucks increasing one of the three passes on this stroke.
Members of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center felt the project and started to push ODOT to make this sector more respectful of wildlife as part of the project.
ODFW statistics show that stroke and the stroke-5 South of Ashland Siskiyou Summit accounts for most of the roadkills locally, in part because the highway crosses important bridges of East-West land.
It's an important issue for the crossing of wildlife, so that kind of stuck to us, says Joseph Vaile, Director of the center's campaign. We thought this was an incredible opportunity.
ODOT called Wray to evaluate the streets for wildlife passage there and to determine where improvements could be achieved, if there is no extra money ODOT's budget for this project, says Dan Latham ODOT spokesperson.
We're open to the idea, Latham says. At ODOT, we build things. If there's a need and money available, we're ready to do what needs to be done.
Wray spent part of last week's walk down the stretch and discovered a few key areas already used by wildlife.
An underpass beneath the exit Glendale, for example, contains a slew of game animals use paths to slip under the motorway, Wray says.
While many drainage on stroke are too steep for wildlife, some may have added to their substrate or can be adapted with benches to make them more useful, says Wray.
Other possibilities are concrete barriers for swapping parapets visually permeable, trimming back foliage, removing thickets within medians and perhaps build a culvert for migration.
The trick is to provide pathways for wildlife crossing-5 without their having to wander up and down the shoulder waiting to find the place and the courage to make a dash for it.
The more they hang out of the way, the higher the chance they're going to turn into street pizza, Wray says.