Wyoming is the recipient of an Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative (EEI) award from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), thanks to the success of a project to improve traveler safety and reduce wildlife mortality along a major highway route.
The award results from work on US 30 through Nugget Canyon west of Kemmerer. The $3.9 million project was sponsored by WYDOT in cooperation with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, with special funding provided by the Wyoming Legislature. Worland’s Hout Fencing of Wyoming was the prime contractor on the job.
Work consisted primarily of adding six wildlife underpasses to US 30 and erecting about a dozen miles of special wildlife fencing alongside the road, which crosses the migration path of the Wyoming Range mule deer herd. A substantial reduction in the vehicle-wildlife crash rate has already resulted since work was completed in September 2008.
The EEI awards reflect “hallmark demonstrations of environmental stewardship,” and recognize projects that reduce habitat fragmentation and barriers to animal movement.
“This project is very representative of these types of projects,” said Lamar Smith, FHWA’s Environmental Technical Service Team manager. “It provides safe migration routes for deer and other animals, and it’s 14 miles long, so it’s not just a spot improvement, it did look at the context of the area. It required very strong partnering and a collaborative approach, and not only used science, but actually developed some science that is being used on other future projects.”