The Colorado Wildlife & Transportation Alliance is a collaborative effort focused on improving human safety while integrating wildlife movement needs into Colorado’s transportation system. This includes measures that institutionalize wildlife considerations into transportation project planning and build partnerships to protect wildlife movements across landscapes. The Alliance formed in 2017 out of a need for greater interagency communication and has since grown to include over a dozen state, Tribal, federal, and non-profit members. The Alliance serves as a robust forum for interagency discussion, cross-sector information-sharing, and statewide coordination, and is achieving its goals of reducing wildlife-vehicle conflicts and improving connectivity for wildlife.
A data-driven approach to planning and implementation is central to the Alliance’s success in advancing mitigation projects. Two foundational Wildlife Prioritization Studies—one for Colorado’s Western Slope and a follow-up for Colorado’s Eastern Slope and Plains—inform statewide mitigation priorities and the allocation of resources to the areas of greatest concern. The Alliance’s inclusive governance and engagement structure empowers its dedicated members to collaborate with agency staff—from executive teams to field staff—and normalize non-traditional partnerships in Colorado’s transportation planning and ecological work. This collaborative problem-solving has earned the Alliance the trust and support of agency leadership at both the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW). With this support, the Alliance continues to build on its previous momentum to elevate its Priority Projects, a set of six wildlife mitigation projects representing a diversity of funding and partnership circumstances through which the Alliance will focus on process improvement and project development efforts. The six Priority Projects, which occur on two state roadways, two U.S. highways, and two interstate highways, exemplify various funding scenarios, such as assembling design funding, filling the funding gaps of existing projects, or supporting future projects on CDOT’s 10-year plan.
This presentation will discuss the formation of this collaborative effort and the progress that has been made in institutionalizing expectations of partnerships between Colorado’s transportation and wildlife agencies—and with external partners and local governments as well. This presentation will also share recent successes in funding and policy support (e.g. Colorado Senate Bill 22-151), which will enable the Alliance to continue its advancement of project development, public education, and stakeholder outreach.