Areas where public land abuts both sides of the road are often considered ideal locations for wildlife crossing structures and associated mitigation measures. However, key pinch points for habitat connectivity and/or roadkill hotspots may occur in landscapes dominated by private lands, such as in valley bottoms, riparian areas, and other easily developed areas. If private land in these key locations are protected, a proposed wildlife crossing structure is much more likely to be considered a sensible investment. Land trust or land conservancies are community-based, nonprofit organizations that actively work to permanently conserve land using tools such as conservation easements or acquisitions. By conserving habitat on either side of a proposed wildlife crossing structure and with other conservation steps they may play on private lands, land trusts and private landowners have a critical role to play in ensuring the success of wildlife crossing structures.
This presentation provides guidance for natural resource and transportation agencies and their partners to effectively engage land trusts in wildlife crossing projects. The presenter created a Land Trusts and Wildlife Crossing Structures toolkit detailing myriad options for how land trusts can meaningfully contribute to projects that reduce wildlife-vehicle conflict and reconnect landscapes. The document is based on extensive research and conversations with numerous land trusts across the country that have played a role in habitat connectivity and wildlife crossing projects. Land trusts were keenly interested in this information when it was presented at the Land Trust Alliance conference in September 2022. This new presentation will include additional examples and insights gleaned through further outreach. Moreover, this presentation will present guidance to agencies and their partners, rather than land trusts, regarding what they can do to forge these crucial partnerships with private landowners.
In summarizing best practices for advancing wildlife crossing projects adjacent to private lands, this presentation will explore both how to take advantage of opportunities to partner with land trusts and land trusts, and how to avoid or overcome obstacles to working with these communities successfully. The presenter will also highlight examples of how land trusts secured land adjacent to roads and worked with transportation agencies to help mitigate barriers to wildlife. Recognizing the importance of the 2023 ICOET theme “Partnering for a Healthy Landscape,” this presentation provides the knowledge and tools necessary to catalyze new partnerships, with the aim of ensuring that wildlife crossing projects are successful across all landscapes, rather than just the areas of public land where they are traditionally built.