Brock Ortega, Principal at Dudek and Wildlife Biologist. Brock has 30 years of experience in environmental analysis associated with land-use and transportation projects. He has been using camera traps since film was the medium and has monitored warm and cold-blooded wildlife throughout California.
Winston Vickers is a wildlife veterinarian and researcher at the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center who is well-known in California for his studies of mountain lion behavior, ecology, and human-lion conflict. He has led the science behind new proposals to build crossings across Interstate-15 to rescue lion populations that are genetically isolated by this very busy highway.
Trish Smith is an Ecologist from The Nature Conservancy of California’s Connected Lands Program and has been working to address regional connectivity management and monitoring needs for wildlife in Orange, San Diego and Riverside Counties.
Scott Quinell, Senior Environmental Planner Environmental Stewardship Branch, District 8, Caltrans. Scott has 20 Years of Experience in: Habitat Conservation Planning, Wildlife Corridor Studies, Biological Construction Monitoring & Stewardship
This virtual trip will be a combination of a trip to potential wildlife connections across I-15 near Temecula Creek where mountain lion, mule deer, Arroyo chub and horned lizard and other species are the focus and potential crossing areas across the SR-62 which focuses on desert bighorn sheep, mountain lion, mule deer, black bear and desert tortoise among other species. The 1-15 connectivity area represents the last opportunity to connect mountain lions and other wildlife in the more isolated Santa Ana Mountains and coast to the larger Peninsular Ranges of San Diego and Riverside Counties. The SR 62 connectivity opportunities link the San Bernardino to the Little San Bernardino Mountains/Joshua Tree desert region and is highly constrained with currently only 1 small location for desert bighorn movement. It is also a beautiful high-desert ecosystem, with cacti, sage, succulents, dry washes and lots of rocks.
The I-15 area has been a focus of nearly thirty years of study and land protection by various entities, including SC Wildlands, SDSU, UCD Wildlife Health Center, The Nature Conservancy and Caltrans that has focused on meeting connectivity needs of mountain lions and other wildlife. GPS collar data, camera studies, movement modelling, and field surveys have been used to inform the best locations for the placement of wildlife crossing structures to meet the needs of a suite of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife species.
The SR 62 has been the subject of a very in-depth analysis sponsored by Caltrans and carried out by Dudek, the UCD Road Ecology Center, Aztec Engineering, UCLA, and UC Riverside. Camera traps, animal sign, and roadkill surveys were used to directly measure wildlife occurrence and movement adjacent to and across the right-of-way. The project culminated in a series of recommendations for mitigation of existing and possibly new highway disturbance.
Take a tour with us to view sites within the study area that frames the issues and highlights the proposed solutions. Using site-specific live in-person video touring and simultaneous UAS overflights, we will look at between 3 and 6 sites within each study area . For SR 62 we will visit the current bighorn pinch-point, at least one proposed overcrossing location, and a compromised structure or two. For the I-15 area, we will visit the existing Temecula Creek Bridge, 2 sites for a proposed new wildlife overcrossing or undercrossing, and recently constructed wildlife exclusion fencing. We are hopeful that we will also be able to provide UAS for the complementary I-15 tour.