The Wyoming Department of Transportation will receive a $14.5 million federal grant from the U.S Department of Transportation for the Dry Piney wildlife crossing project north of La Barge in southwest Wyoming, the governor’s office announced Thursday.
The grant will be used for underpasses, fencing and other improvements along a 19-mile stretch of U.S. 189 between La Barge and Big Piney, according to the announcement.
“Wyoming has demonstrated leadership in protecting wildlife as they migrate,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in the news release. “Similar efforts the state has engaged in have not only benefited wildlife, but saved motorists as well. Projects like this one draw national attention to our state’s efforts to support wildlife health, and also open the door for federal funding of similar projects.”
The improvements will make things safer for drivers while helping wildlife use historic migration routes.
The Wyoming Range mule deer herd will be affected, as well as pronghorn and moose.
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Reducing the number of carcasses on the road will also improve worker safety, the release stated.
“This grant will enable us to continue our work on the Dry Piney project, which will help us reduce vehicle-wildlife collisions on our roads,” WYDOT Director Luke Reiner said in the announcement. “This project is important to Wyoming because it will improve highway safety for all.”
Added Brian Nesvik, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department: “Wildlife is valuable to Wyoming, and this project is an investment that helps preserve the historic migration of many big game species. Underpasses, coupled with fencing, can reduce crashes by 80-90 percent and ensure animals can safely cross roads to get to seasonal ranges.”
The total cost of the project is expected to be between $12 and $36.5 million.
“This funding will help us keep Wyoming’s roads safer for everyone,” WYDOT Chief Engineer Shelby Carlson said in a statement. “WYDOT, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and other stakeholders have been studying this issue and have identified several areas in the state where improvements need to be made. Dry Piney is one of those areas and this grant will help us make those vital improvements.”
The Wyoming Transportation Commission and the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission have both contributed $1.25 million toward the project.
A Casper-area family recently donated $25,000 toward wildlife-vehicle collision mitigation, and the department will receive other funding for wildlife conservation projects, it said.