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Wildlife Highway

By Jack and Ro Bury

Moose migrating from Mount Spokane aren’t the only wildlife safely and secretly passing through the new tunnel under the Newport Highway. The new passage helping animals move from one side of the highway to the other is part of a growing momentum for large-scale preservation of wildlife habitat and the corridors that connect them.

The local work is significant because northeast Washington and North Idaho are on the western edge of what eco-biologists consider possibly the most important interconnected habitat in North America. The so-called “western wildway” along the spine of the Rockies, Alaska and Northern Mexico is the focus of large and small efforts to preserve places where native plants and animals can thrive.

Our highways bisect wildlife highways, and vehicle impacts cause road kill; eighty elk in five years on Snoqualmie Pass. But those are not the only literal impacts. Each year more than 200 motorists are killed by animal-vehicle collisions, according to the Wildlife Society.

Nationally the average cost of auto-deer collisions is $2,000.00. If North America is going to sustain life, humans have to learn how to literally cross paths with wild animals. Critter crossings got legitimate funding and strategic planning under President Clinton’s Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (“TEA-21”). The momentum carried through to WSDOT’s Elk Crossing on Snoqualmie Pass and landed locally when Conservation Futures purchased a migratory corridor from Mica Peak to the Turnbull Reserve.

WSDOT has constructed a number of underpasses following creek beds. When the North-South Corridor Project was reconstructing Hwy 2, the Peone Creek critter underpass was installed at the base of the steep draw under Hwy 2, a half mile north of Farwell Rd. You can’t see the underpass culvert from Highway 2, but to the south side of the highway is Peone Park which shoulders Peone Creek.

For satellite and road map GO TO Note the creek that flows through the wildlife underpass under the Hwy and note the highway flowing over the creek for human travelers. You can follow the creek to the Little Spokane River.

All of the Little Spokane River Valley inhabitants can travel without crossing paths.

Also see Reducing the Risk of Wildlife Collisions and Federal Highway Administration Critter Crossings.

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