I-90 Wildlife Watch program sunsets after more than a decade collecting motorist reports of animals on the interstate near Snoqualmie Pass
Conservation Northwest / Sep 03, 2021 / Central Cascades, Connecting Habitat, I-90 Wildlife, News Releases, Restoring Wildlife
Launched in 2010, citizen-science program helped inform I-90 wildlife crossing locations.
After eleven years and more than 500 reports from motorists of wildlife along Interstate 90 in Washington’s Central Cascades, we’re successfully closing the I-90 Wildlife Watch program and website.
I-90 Wildlife Watch was initiated in November 2010 to inform ongoing work for wildlife crossings east of Snoqualmie Pass as part of Conservation Northwest’s I-90 Wildlife Corridor Campaign and in support of the Washington State Department of Transportation’s I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project.
Project partners have included WSDOT, Western Transportation Institute, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Central Washington University, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition (a collection of supportive non-profits and businesses administered by Conservation Northwest).
Through the i90wildlifewatch.org website and I-90 Wildlife Watch Facebook page, as well as billboards, in-person outreach at dozens of local events and collaborations with area schools, I-90 Wildlife Watch invited the more than 30,000 motorists that drive over Snoqualmie Pass each day to submit information about wildlife sightings between North Bend and Easton—data that was then compiled by Conservation Northwest staff and reported to agency and non-profit biologists and policy makers.
As I-90 Wildlife Crossings were planned, funded and implemented, these motorist reports helped public agencies and conservation groups better understand the movement of wildlife within the I-90 corridor, including informing the location of wildlife crossings built as part of WSDOT’s I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project, an effort that since 2005 Conservation Northwest championed the inclusion of wildlife crossings in through extensive lobbying, media coverage and public advocacy.
While I-90 is a vital east-west transportation corridor in Washington state, it also bisects a critical north-south wildlife corridor for wildlife moving throughout the Cascade Mountains and from the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and Mount Rainier National Park.
The first two large wildlife undercrossings were completed at Gold Creek near Hyak in 2015, and the first wildlife overcrossing was completed east of Keechelus Lake near Noble Creek in early 2019. Construction is now underway on a second wildlife overcrossing near Easton Island, and numerous other undercrossings both large and small have been completed or are in progress within the 15-mile project corridor.
The story of this collaborative conservation success story was told in the Cascade Crossroads documentary film, released in early 2018. Continued monitoring of wildlife activity in the area is being conducted by WSDOT, the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Central Washington University, Conservation Northwest’s Community Wildlife Monitoring Project, and other partners.
As I-90 Wildlife Crossings began to be successfully constructed, I-90 Wildlife Watch evolved in 2017 to include an information sharing component; posting videos, photos and other reports of wildlife using the new crossings to social media including the I-90 Wildlife Watch Facebook page. This activity will continue on that page, as well as through the social media channels of WSDOT and WSDOT Snoqualmie Pass, Conservation Northwest, and other project supporters.
Our staff are also continuing to lead habitat restoration and connectivity work in Washington’s Cascade Mountains from the Alpine Lakes Wilderness to Mount Rainier National Park through our Central Cascades Watersheds Restoration program, with builds on past efforts such as our I-90 Wildlife Corridor Campaign and The Cascades Conservation Partnership.
To report sightings of wildlife in the I-90 corridor, please contact WSDOT at: 360-705-7000 or learn more on these webpages:
- Tracking wildlife carcasses removed by WSDOT maintenance staff: https://wsdot.wa.gov/environment/technical/disciplines/fish-wildlife/habitat-connectivity/tracking-wildlife-carcasses
- WSDOT Habitat Connectivity: https://wsdot.wa.gov/environment/technical/disciplines/fish-wildlife/habitat-connectivity
- WSDOT Reducing the risk of wildlife collisions: https://wsdot.wa.gov/environment/protecting/wildlife-collisions
- Conservation Northwest I-90 Wildlife Corridor Campaign: https://conservationnw.org/our-work/habitat/i-90/
- WDFW: Report Wildlife Observations: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/a384e90f69744f2e846135a9ce80027f
THANK YOU to everyone that submitted reports through I-90 Wildlife Watch over the past eleven years: you helped reconnect the North and South Cascades for wildlife as well as supported motorist safety on our region’s busiest mountain pass!