Reconnecting Habitats: The Washington State Department of Transportation's Approach to Integrating Habitat Connectivity Principles into the State's Transportation System

Glen P. Kalisz, Washington State Department of Transportation
Kelly McAllister (Washington State Department of Transportation)
Topic Area
Planning for Transportation Ecology

Habitat connectivity is essential to maintaining healthy ecological processes and viable wildlife populations. While transportation infrastructure is often considered a barrier to wildlife movement, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is committed to making the highway system more permeable for wildlife. I will discuss WSDOT's efforts to incorporate habitat connectivity principles into the stewardship of the state's transportation system, including the basis for determining where on our sizeable highway system we can justify spending public dollars on improving highway conditions for wildlife, and how we should integrate habitat connectivity into our fish barrier corrections and other projects. I will highlight examples of WSDOT's accomplishments around the state and address components of our crossing structure monitoring program including the use of infrared trail cameras to collect and analyze data; as well as what we have learned about species' preferences for different types of habitat connectivity infrastructure. I will describe how we determine structure sizing, when and where to use jumpouts, wildlife fencing, and cattle guards, and provide some general recommendations for increasing the permeability of our highway system without relying solely on major projects.

Abstract Keywords
Habitat Connectivity
Fish Barrier
Washington State
Crossing Structure