Saving lives on Highway 97

Saving lives on Highway 97

Conservation Northwest / Mar 19, 2019 / Connecting Habitat, Okanogan Working for Wildlife, Wildlife Crossings, Work Updates

Supporters and partners helped us reach our fundraising goal for the Okanogan Wildlife Crossing Campaign, ensuring safer passage for mule deer across Highway 97.

by mitch Friedman, executive director

Today, we’re thrilled to say thank you and congratulations to everyone who has supported our Okanogan Wildlife Crossing Campaign.

The collective generosity of more than 570 donors has raised enough money to purchase a wildlife crossing under Highway 97!

This will be the first wildlife crossing of its kind in north-central Washington, and YOU made it happen.

A graphic rendition of the wildlife underpass we can install on Highway 97, thanks to the help of our generous donors.

Thanks to you, travelers, freighters and commuters can breathe a little easier as they drive between Riverside and Tonasket.

Thanks to you, highway patrol officers will spend less time and millions less in taxpayer dollars on collision cleanup.

Most of all, thanks to you, Washington’s largest herd of mule deer will have safer passage as they migrate from the North Cascades in the west and the Kettle River Mountain Range in the east.

Together with Mule Deer Foundation chapters from all over Washington and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, you helped us raise $200,000 for this vital crossing.

Plus, the Washington State Department of Transportation will supply the construction and labor to install this first underpass near the Carter Mountain Wildlife Area. The Okanogan Wildlife Crossing Campaign is truly a team effort. We’ll say it again: thank you!

So what happens next?

A sign warns motorists about deer crossing Highway 97 near Carter Mountain. The construction of a wildlife underpass will allow safer passage for deer and people.             Photo: Jay Kehne

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has recommended a first phase of three wildlife crossings on the most dangerous four-mile segment of Highway 97. Completing this project would reduce vehicle-deer collisions by 50 percent!

Fortunately, your support has inspired Representative Maycumber (7th Legislative District) and Senator Short (7th Legislative District) to sponsor a request for full funding of this first phase of three wildlife crossings in the 2019 Transportation Budget Bill. You made this progress happen with the power of your philanthropy and advocacy.

We’ll keep you updated on the status of that budget bill and on construction of the first underpass that you made possible.

Thank you for supporting the Okanogan Wildlife Crossing Campaign. Together, we’re driving toward a better future for people and wildlife!

check out our okanogan wildlife crossing campaign page, or watch this video to learn more!
Both people and mule deer need to move. Thanks to your support, we’re now able to create safe passage for both on Highway 97. Photo: Technotr