In a December article for Berea College Magazine, “A Search for Safe Passage” author and Berea alumna Frances Figart reflected on all that led up to her work advocating for safe wildlife crossings in the Pigeon River Gorge and beyond.
In the article, Figart recalled that, as a child growing up in eastern Kentucky, she often created “books” for her parents with protagonists like foxes, bobcats, raccoons and opossums. “The only sadness I recall was seeing these wild creatures killed by vehicles on our narrow, winding country roads,” she wrote.
Folding her lifelong passion for protecting animals into her job, Figart supported her employer, Great Smoky Mountains Association, in joining other organizations to create what would become the Safe Passage Fund Coalition.
Around that same time, during the COVID-19 lockdown, Figart thought: “Why not create a story you would have loved to read with your parents as an 11-year-old in the mountains of eastern Kentucky?”
To read the full article in Berea College Magazine, click here.
Published by Great Smoky Mountains Association in 2021 and tied to the mission of the Safe Passage Fund Coalition, “A Search for Safe Passage” tells the story of best friends Bear and Deer who grew up together in a beautiful Appalachian gorge, though their home is now divided in two by a dangerous Human Highway. Geared toward readers age 7-13, the book features 19 species of wildlife found in Southern Appalachia and includes an additional nonfiction section with educational lessons about animal habitat requirements, behavior, migration patterns, and roadway ecology problems and solutions developed with input from both international and local experts.