Connecting for Wildlife: Improving Roads for Motorist Safety and Habitat Connectivity
BEAT’s Connecting for Wildlife program strives to improve habitat connectivity and motorist safety in Western Massachusetts. Roads represent a significant barrier to wildlife movement, subdividing the landscape, fragmenting and degrading habitat, and given traffic, acting as a conspicuous source of wildlife mortality. To address this issue BEAT is collaborating with transportation planners, biologists, universities, and locals to identify, survey, and analyze road segments within linkage zones (also known as wildlife corridors).
In short, Connecting for Wildlife aspires to maximize motorist safety by reducing vehicle wildlife collisions and minimize the ecological footprint of roadways by improving landscape connectivity. The project consists of four parts
1) IDENTIFICATION: Using computer models, a statewide roadkill database, expert and local opinion, BEAT will suss out 20-40 road segments that hold the greatest potential to increase habitat connectivity while also making the roads safer for motorists.
2) SURVEYING: BEAT will refine a nationally recognized survey protocol, train survey teams, then measure, document, and photograph road segments. Furthermore, via Berkshire Wildlife Trackers (BWT), certified wildlife trackers will conduct line-intercept wildlife tracking to calibrate computer model data in order to better understand where and how infrastructure affects wildlife movement.
3) REPORTING and ANALYSIS: BEAT will analyze and summarize findings, create written reports, build an ArcGIS database, and disseminate data to appropriate agencies and individuals.
4) ACTION: A summary of transportation ecology news in Massachusetts. Check out the action.