Wildlife Corridor Could Expand

This is the area surrounding the Liberty Canyon exit on Highway 101. (Photo: From Ventura County Star, CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/NATIONAL PARK SERVICE)

Friends of the Santa Clara River have long considered protection of natural corridors for wildlife movement in the watershed to be of primary importance; the river itself serving as the primary east-west corridor. We have consistently opposed development projects that cause significant impacts to wildlife movement in the watershed.

California’s Wildlife Conservation Board has approved $3.35 million toward purchase of 71 acres at Liberty Canyon, just north of Highway 101, which will allow construction of an overpass allowing wildlife to safely cross the U.S. 101 traffic artery.  The areas north of this crossing would connect with Ventura County’s wildlife corridors under a General Plan amendment now under consideration by the Ventura County Planning Commission.

These actions will eventually provide vital habitat connectivity from the Santa Monica Mountains through the Simi Hills, to the Santa Clara River watershed and Los Padres National Forest.  The long-term survival of species such as mountain lions depends on their ability to move between these areas to maintain genetic diversity.

The money comes from Proposition 50, which allows the state to borrow money for natural resources and water projects. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy plans to provide another $2.55 million and Los Angeles County will put in $1.1 million, completing the funding necessary to purchase the property.  Additional funding for the overpass is currently being sought.

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