Feds to hear public comment on northern Arizona interstate wildlife crossing proposal

Three wildlife crossings could be coming to stretches of interstate through northern Arizona.The Kaibab and Coconino national forests are seeking public comment until Aug. 29 on the proposal to install the three crossings.Officials say the proposal, brought forward by the Arizona Game and Fish Department in collaboration with the Arizona Department of Transportation, is based on years of study.With the goal of keeping motorists safe and allowing wildlife to safely cross the roads unimpeded, the proposed crossings would be located on Interstate 17 south of Kachina Village, on I-17 north of the Willard Springs exit and on I-40 west of Parks.The proposed crossings would be constructed over the next several years based on funding availability. Construction of each crossing would require six to eight months and would be built to minimize impacts to highway traffic.

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Officials say the crossings would reduce potential vehicle-wildlife collisions and increase wildlife population connectivity across the landscape. Over the long-term the crossings would benefit local wildlife, decrease the potential for vehicle collisions and reduce costs to Arizona taxpayers.It is expected that the elevated crossing structures would be mostly located within the existing highway easement and would require an additional 18 acres of national forest lands for all three crossings that would be used for construction and maintenance of these structures over the long term.Comments from the public can be sent through email to comments-southwestern-coconino@usda.gov (include “NAZ Crossings” in the subject line).Comments can also be submitted through traditional mail, sent to Coconino Forest Service’s Mike Dechter at 1824 South Thompson St., Flagstaff, AZ 86001.For more detailed information on the proposal including a scoping letter with additional maps, please visit the project webpage.


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