Take action to protect habitat near I-90 wildlife crossings

Take action to protect habitat near I-90 wildlife crossings

Conservation Northwest / Jan 27, 2016 / I-90 Wildlife, Wildlife Crossings

WILD NW Action Alert #253: Proposed Washington State Parks development near Snoqualmie Pass threatens I-90 wildlife crossings.

You’ve by now hopefully heard about the exciting collaborative work being done by Conservation Northwest, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Forterra and other organizations to construct wildlife crossings over and under Interstate 90 between Snoqualmie Pass and Easton.

Three major wildlife undercrossings are now in use by creatures big and small, and WSDOT contractors broke ground on the first wildlife “bridge”, the Keechelus Lake Wildlife Overcrossing, in June 2015. These new crossings will make the busy interstate safer for both animals and people. But we just learned about a risky proposal that may jeopardize the success of the I-90 wildlife crossings project.

Please submit a comment today! The comment deadline is this Sunday, January 31st.

Washington State Parks has proposed a year-round development with a large lodge, conference room, RV facilities, retail shops and up to 100 cabins at Crystal Springs off Stampede Pass Road immediately south of the wildlife overcrossing. Currently, the site is an undeveloped parking area managed for low use winter recreation as part of Iron Horse State Park. Overnight use is currently not permitted.

We support sustainable outdoor recreation and responsible public access to our region’s cherished wildlands. However, close proximity to a celebrated I-90 wildlife crossing is the wrong place for a major new State Parks developed area that would be active year-round. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceWashington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition and other conservation and recreation organizations are also voicing their concerns about the proposed Crystal Springs development.

Please join us by submitting your comments today!

Habitat connectivity is vital for the long term health of wildlife populations; it allows animals to find new mates and territories, exchange healthy genes, and respond to changing conditions such as wildfires and climate change.

Crystal Springs sits at the heart of an important wildlife corridor in the Central Cascades. Years of tracking and monitoring by state and federal agencies, Conservation Northwest and other partners has documented extensive animal movement here. The first wildlife “bridge” is being built at the Keechelus Lake site to reduce the dangerous barrier that I-90 poses for elk, deer, wolves and other animals moving through this corridor.

Biologists note that “a majority of animal species present in the area use the early morning, late evening and nocturnal periods for movement which currently coincides well with human traffic which is more centered to the daylight hours.” However, the bustling activity at Crystal Springs that would result from construction and use of cabins, a lodge and conference room, retail shops and more would have significant negative impacts on wildlife compared to the site’s current usage, and could deter animals from using the new crossing structures.

Washington state has invested millions of public dollars in the I-90 wildlife crossings project. And stakeholders have provided thousands of hours of work to steward this monumental towards completion. The proposed Crystal Springs development would undermine the effectiveness of this effort and contradict the many years of public-private collaboration that helped make it a reality.

Please click here to submit a comment to Washington State Parks calling to have the Crystal Springs development proposal taken off the table. Or submit comments of your own via State Park’s online comment form or by emailing planning@parks.wa.gov by the January 31st comment deadline.

Click here to view a larger graphic displaying the proximity of the proposed Crystal Springs site to wildlife crossing structures under construction as part of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East ProjectWithin a critical wildlife travel corridor and next to a major new wildlife overcrossing is not an appropriate place to build this type of high impact development.

Thank you for helping us keep the Northwest wild!