Governor Polis Signs Executive Order to Conserve Colorado Wildlife and Habitat, While Protecting Public Safety
DENVER – Governor Jared Polis today signed an executive order that supports Colorado’s wildlife, their habitat and migratory routes, while protecting public safety. Habitat loss poses a significant risk to Colorado’s wildlife populations. With Colorado’s growing population and increased travel across the state, nearly 4,000 wildlife-vehicle crashes are reported each year. That’s an estimated $80 million in damages, not including the value of wildlife killed or the impact on the health of wildlife populations.
“Colorado’s natural beauty and wildlife are part of why so many people love our great state,” said Governor Jared Polis. “This is a step toward better understanding and protecting the migratory patterns of Colorado’s wildlife populations and ensuring we can preserve our treasured animals and their habitats.”
Colorado has seen success with a number of wildlife passages around the state, most notably with Highway 9 south of Kremmling through the Blue River Valley. Over an 11 year stretch, there were more than 650 wildlife-vehicle collisions on this section of highway. Through collaboration, a wildlife passage project was completed in November 2016 and consists of two wildlife overpass structures, five wildlife underpasses, 10.4 miles of eight-foot-high wildlife exclusion fencing, 61 wildlife escape ramps, and 29 wildlife guards to help reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions while providing safe passages for wildlife. This executive order opens the door for more projects like this.
The executive order takes a number of steps to ensure conservation of Colorado’s big game winter range and migration corridors:
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will take a closer look at exactly where these animals are and how they’re moving around the state. This analysis will be continually updated, include assessment of top threats and identify key data gaps and other barriers.
DNR will also identify policy, regulatory and legislative opportunities to ensure ongoing conservation of seasonal big game habitat and migration corridors based on the latest available scientific data.
The Department of Transportation (CDOT) will incorporate ongoing consideration of big game migration into all levels of its planning process in order to enable safe wildlife passage and reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions.
CDOT and DNR will enter a formal Memorandum of Understanding to achieve the goals of this Executive Order.
Read the full executive order here.