Huffman Advocates for Wildlife Protections in Next Transportation Bill
San Rafael, CA – Representative Jared Huffman (CA-02), member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today led 36 of his colleagues in a letter to committee leadership urging them to include wildlife-vehicle collision reduction provisions in the upcoming reauthorization of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act,currently being drafted by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Rep. Huffman also serves as chair of the Natural Resources Water, Oceans, and Wildlife subcommittee, where he has overseen legislative hearings on the importance of safe wildlife crossings.
“States, tribes, and local communities are working around the country to secure improved data on collision hot-spots and explore ways to make our highways safer for people and wildlife,” the members wrote. “By investing in solutions to wildlife-vehicle collisions through the surface transportation bill, we can ensure land managers and transportation agencies across the country are able to proactively address this problem.”
The members went on to highlight several key provisions from the Senate led version of the bill that could serve as a foundation for the House led legislation, including increased funding for a Wildlife Crossing Pilot Program and ensuring wildlife crossing projects are recognized as eligible for funding.
“From mule deer migrations across the West to Florida panthers, wildlife crossings help wildlife meet their needs and avoid fatal collisions,” said Mike Leahy, director of wildlife, hunting, and fishing policy for the National Wildlife Federation. “Representative Huffman’s leadership will invest in critical infrastructure that sustains our outdoor economy while saving lives and property by preventing wildlife-vehicle collisions on roads and highways.”
“From Santa Monica mountain lions to black bears in the Great Smokies, national park wildlife across the country share the everyday challenge of safely crossing busy roads. Congress can address this problem and we are pleased to see broad support for wildlife-vehicle collision reduction, which could better protect wildlife and motorists. Providing state and federal agencies access to funding to study and address wildlife-vehicle collisions is critical to ensuring the long-term health of national park wildlife,” said Bart Melton, Wildlife Program Director for the National Parks Conservation Association.
In addition to Representative Jared Huffman (CA-02), the letter was signed by Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (VA-08), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Brendan F. Boyle (PA-02), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Matt Cartwright (PA-08), Sean Casten (IL-06), Gerald E.Connolly (VA-11), Bill Foster (IL-11), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), John Garamendi (CA-03), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Ben Ray Luján (NM-03), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Dina Titus (NV-01), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Filemón Vela (TX-34), and Nydia Velázquez (NY-07).
The full letter can be found here or below:
Dear Chair DeFazio, Chair Norton, Ranking Member Graves, and Ranking Member Davis,
As you work to address our nation’s infrastructure and reauthorize the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, we urge you to include critical provisions on wildlife-vehicle collision reduction in legislation currently being drafted by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Roads that pass through wildlife habitat migration paths can be very dangerous for drivers. Wildlife-vehicle collisions unfortunately kill approximately 200 Americans every year, cause 26,000 injuries, and cost over $8 billion in damages annually. Roads also threaten the health of America’s fish and wildlife populations. When a highway or other structure is built, wildlife habitat can be interrupted or fragmented. Habitat fragmentation makes it difficult for many species to complete seasonal migrations or daily movements in search of food, water and mates. This is a significant issue for wildlife – killing an estimated 1-2 million large mammals ever year - as well as a major threat to American motorists.
However, there is a solution. States, tribes, and local communities are working around the country to secure improved data on collision hot-spots and explore ways to make our highways safer for people and wildlife. A variety of available methods, including improved or variable signage, wildlife-friendly underpasses integrated into bridge replacements, or overpasses to direct wildlife safely across highways, can help protect people and wildlife by preventing collisions on the road. When placed in areas of known wildlife movement, crossing structures can reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions by up to 97 percent. By investing in solutions to wildlife-vehicle collisions through the surface transportation bill, we can ensure land managers and transportation agencies across the country are able to proactively address this problem.
Wildlife crossing provisions were included in S. 2302, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, which passed unanimously out of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works can be included in our bill and serve as a baseline for the House to build on.
Those important measures include, among others:
- A competitive Wildlife Crossing Pilot Program to provide competitive grants to states, tribes, local governments for wildlife infrastructure projects that reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve habitat connectivity. We recommend increasing the level of funding for this important program.
- Updated language in existing funding streams, including the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program and the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects, to ensure wildlife crossing projects are recognized as eligible for funding.
From California to Wyoming to Florida, states across the country have been working to address wildlife-vehicle collisions on their roads and highways. While land managers and transportation agencies have made significant progress, there is more work to be done and Congress can provide the necessary tools.
We look forward to working with you on addressing wildlife-vehicle collisions in the House surface transportation reauthorization legislation.
--- Members of Congress ---
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