In our research, IEMM investigated the dangers posed to wildlife along State Route 67 for California’s Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in order to inform their rehabilitation of the highway. We studied the SR-67’s existing culvert structures, investigated roadkill, and analyzed bobcat movement data to help Caltrans plan for making SR-67 safer for wildlife.
In the summer of 2014, we began work for Caltrans to study wildlife movement along Highway 67 in San Diego’s backcountry.
SR-67 is a busy road that is the main thoroughfare in and out of the community of Ramona. High speeds, a winding road, and heavy traffic lead to many accidents along the highway between Lakeside and Ramona.
This road is also dangerous for wildlife, and safe crossings for wildlife are a major concern for conservation planning in San Diego County. Since there are conserved lands and native habitats adjacent to the road, a lot of wildlife live in proximity to SR-67.
In our research, IEMM studied the existing culvert structures, investigated roadkill, and used previously collected data on bobcat movement to help Caltrans plan for making Highway 67 safer for wildlife. We collected data on all medium to large animals using remote cameras and roadkill data collection and, in particular, we focused on bobcat (Lynx rufus) and ringtail (Bassariscus astutus).
Caltrans used this data to inform planning efforts on their median barrier project and eventually, will use it to plan for the widening of the highway.
Comprehensive Multispecies Connectivity Planning and Assessment
In the beginning of 2016, we received funding to continue work on improving connectivity in the area surrounding Highway 67 from the San Diego Association of Governments. In June 2017, we completed a comprehensive connectivity analysis using existing data on a suite of local species ranging from pumas to wrentits in an expanded area beyond the highway. We combined data contributed by partners from the San Diego Management and Monitoring Program, including collaborators at the USGS Western Ecological Research Center and the San Diego Natural History Museum, among others. Using cutting-edge analytical techniques, we synthesized data from remote cameras, GPS tracking, genetic assessments, roadkill, and baseline biological evaluations of protected areas.
We worked closely with a range of stakeholders during this process to take the results from our connectivity modeling and use them for prioritization of conservation actions, including a wildlife infrastructure plan for the highway. We also developed a decision support tool based on our data products to support strategic conservation actions such as acquisitions, restoration, and other habitat enhancement activities.