Northern California is known for its biodiversity and natural beauty. Highways in Northern California bring travelers through diverse ecosystems such as the Pacific Coast, redwood forests, chapparal, oak woodlands, grasslands, foothill forests, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Though our highway systems have numerous benefits for humans, wildlife populations and habitats have been bisected and fragmented by the highway system throughout California (and the rest of the USA).
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) North Region has been working to improve wildlife connectivity since the 1970s by building wildlife passage structures along California state highways. Caltrans has used wildlife passage structures such as corrugated metal pipes, reinforced concrete box culverts, and bridge underpasses paired with wildlife fencing and escape ramps to effectively treat passage issues on segments of roadways for a variety of animal species. In addition, Caltrans is currently in planning stages for several overcrossing projects, which primarily target elk and other large mammals.
Caltrans North Region has constructed 20 wildlife crossing projects (as of 2022) and has many more in construction and in planning. Many projects were made possible through partnerships with state, federal, and local government agencies, as well as collaborating with non-governmental organizations and landowners. Join Caltrans to learn about how we’ve built so many crossings in Northern California, and why there’s no slow down in sight for future projects.