On June 29, two partners of the Safe Passage Fund Coalition — Wildlands Network and the National Parks Conservation Association — released their official report, Road Ecology Research and Mitigation Strategies to Improve Wildlife Connectivity and Human Safety along I-40 in the Pigeon River Gorge.
The much-anticipated report details the findings of more than three years of roadside research in the I-40 Pigeon River Gorge project area combined with analysis of 20 years of historical data. The study was one of largest road ecology research projects ever completed in the eastern United States.
The report was authored by a team of cooperating researchers and scientists:
- Liz Hillard – Ph.D., Senior Wildlife Biologist, Wildlands Network
- Steve Goodman – Conservation Biologist, National Parks Conservation Association
- Ron Sutherland – Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Wildlands Network
- Jeff Hunter – Southeast Regional Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association
Based on the research findings, the report provides 20 detailed mitigation recommendations for improvements to existing structures or creation of new structures throughout the Gorge, and calls for installation of a system of strategically placed wildlife fencing. Additionally, through consensus, the report’s authors provide seven “top priority” recommendations, including key opportunities to construct wildlife overpasses and install larger culverts under the highway.