Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Legislature Passes New York Wildlife Crossings Bill

A woman in a bike helmet takes a photo of roadkill

Legislation directs the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) to identify sites along highways, thruways and parkways in the state where wildlife crossings are most needed to increase public safety and improve habitat connectivity.

Albany, NY- The State Assembly and State Senate have both acted to pass the New York Wildlife Crossings Act, which was sponsored by Senator Leroy Comrie and Assembly Member Robert Carroll. The bill requires the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) to assess roadways “in the state for potential wildlife crossings to improve wildlife habitat connectivity, reduce wildlife vehicle collisions, and increase public safety for New York motorists.”

The DOT will use its assessment of roadways to create a list of the top ten priority wildlife crossings sites in the state according to an established set of criteria. Additionally, for the top five project sites, DOT will also identify federal grant funds that are available for those projects.

The Biden Administration has made $350 million dollars available for wildlife crossings as part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Law enacted in 2021. In December 2023, the federal government announced that it had awarded $110 million dollars of federal funds for wildlife crossings. With the passage of the Wildlife Crossings bill, New York is in a better position to take advantage of the available federal funds.

“This legislation is a milestone for more effective statewide wildlife planning and management in New York. This bill will help to significantly advance wildlife protections. We look forward to the full implementation of this legislation to identify critical wildlife corridors in New York,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks.

Wildlife crossings are structures, such as overpass bridges, underpass tunnels, culverts and directional fencing, that enable wildlife to safely cross roads and other barriers. Not only will wildlife crossings help to improve public safety by reducing vehicle collisions with wildlife, they will also improve the survival rate of wildlife moving throughout, and across the boundaries of, the Adirondack Park and surrounding areas.

Having safe opportunities for road crossings are critical for many species of wildlife in and around the Adirondack Park that have large territorial ranges, such as moose, deer, bear, wolves, and bobcats. In addition, foxes, fishers, martens, and other smaller species of wildlife, plus reptiles and amphibians, need safe means of passage across large roads that impact their habitat and their ability to search for food and breeding grounds.

“With the passage of this bill, New York State is well on its way to providing safer passage for wildlife and people traversing the Adirondack Park and other places in the state that have important wildlife corridors. We urge the governor to sign the bill to unlock access to federal infrastructure funds for these crossings,” said Claudia Braymer, Deputy Director of Protect the Adirondacks.

Protect the Adirondacks: Protect the Adirondacks is an IRS-approved non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park. Our mission is to protect the Adirondack Park’s wild character for current and future generations.

For more information see www.protectadks.org and @ProtectAdkPark.

Photo at top: SUNY Potsdam Assistant Professor Kate Cleary documents roadkill on Route 12 in St. Lawrence County for a road ecology study. Photo by Adirondack Explorer reporter Mike Lynch.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at editor@adirondackalmanack.com.




5 Responses

  1. Zachary Denton says:

    This is great, I would just ask why we didn’t require the DOT and the DEC to work together on this. The DOT could identify common roadkill areas but the DEC would be better suited to identify the best places ecologically for different types of species, and any subsequent crossings.

    • Boreas says:

      My guess is they both will be involved prior to breaking ground. DOT will ikely have good data on mammal road kill, but will likely need DEC or other input on non-mammal mortality and potential conduit crossings.

  2. WBB says:

    • A total of 46% of New York’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on deteriorated roads costs New York motorists $8.9 billion a year – $739 per driver – in the form of additional repairs, accelerated vehicle depreciation, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. • A total of 9% of New York’s bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. A total of 52% of the state’s bridges are at least 50 years old, an age when many bridges require significant rehabilitation or replacement.

    Pre TRIP https://tripnet.org/

  3. Charlie Heidt says:

    I Think The Idea Of Wildlife Crossings Are Great As Long As The Woldlife Know What They Are There For. Hope It Eliminates Deer, Bear VS Vehicle, Truck Collisions.

    • Boreas says:

      Charlie,

      While there are NO crossings that would “eliminate” collisions, I believe there is more we can do while at the same time rebuiling and improving our aging infrastructure. Previous articles have shown pix of beautiful new wildlife overpasses (read EXPENSIVE) which tends to be misleading. In fact, most crossings in NYS would likely be at creek crossings where old culverts need to be replaced. We are already using replacement culverts that allow passage of aquatic life to pass easily through them. Even larger oval-shaped culverts can also be used to allow larger vertebrates to pass through safely.

      Mammals often follow creeks and rivers daily for general travel and sustenance. They are an animal highway. It only makes sense to design crossings at waterways with culverts capable of allowing larger wildlife through. Even if many cannot be designed to allow deer, moose, and bear through, typically the larger the conduit, the more animals it will allow. This type of crossing likely would deliver the most bang for the taxpayer’s buck – especially when routinely replacing existing simple pipes. Of course larger conduits, more excavation and perhaps abutments would need to be used, but if properly done, will be barely noticeable to the motorist. But more importantly, wildlife following their natural highway won’t have to detour onto a human highway to go from point A to point B.

      Unfortunately, politicians will likely want to build expensive “monument” overpasses with their names emblazoned across the top. Culverts aren’t sexy and don’t vote.

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