Outdoors

I-90 motorists willing to report critter sightings for research

Washington Department of Transportation plans to construct a wildlife crossing over all Interstate 90 lanes in this area near Keechelus Dam when funding becomes available. This photograph shows the existing area on I-90 just east of Snoqualmie Pass.
 (Washington Department of Transportation)
Washington Department of Transportation plans to construct a wildlife crossing over all Interstate 90 lanes in this area near Keechelus Dam when funding becomes available. This photograph shows the existing area on I-90 just east of Snoqualmie Pass. (Washington Department of Transportation)

WILDLIFE — Motorists see a lot of wildlife — dead and alive — while driving I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass, and they're willing to share their sightings.

In the first-year of a motorist based wildlife monitoring program, nearly 7,000 visits were logged into the Wildlife Watch website by interested parties and 240 instances of live and dead animals were reported between North Bend and Easton.

The goal is to learn where wildlife crosses the highway so methods might be used to prevent collisions with the animals and the 28,000 vehicles traveling over the Pass each day.

The majority of live animals sighted were deer and elk, with black bears, coyotes, and numerous other species also reported.

The program was launched in November 2010 by the Western Transportation Institute, the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition, and other partners.

The Washington Department of Transportation’s I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East project plans to help enhance driver safety and reconnect north-south wildlife corridors by constructing 24 wildlife crossing structures along a 15-mile stretch of highway between Hyak and Easton.

The photo at left is a visualization of an overpass planned for I-90 neer Keechelus Dam on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass. The photo above is I-90 in its current condition.

The structures, several of which are already under construction, will range in size from enlarged culverts to 150-foot-wide wildlife bridges.

“The information we get from I-90 Wildlife Watch and formal wildlife monitoring allows us to place and design more effective crossing structures, which will give fish and wildlife better access to their habitat. It will also make the roadway safe for travelers,” said Jason Smith, WSDOT environmental manager.

The I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition has been working to ensure the safe passage of wildlife at Snoqualmie Pass for more than a decade by protecting forested habitat in the area and involving citizens in wildlife monitoring.

Participation in I-90 Wildlife Watch is voluntary and observers can remain anonymous.

The first annual report can be viewed online at www.i90wildlifewatch.org.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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