DWR, UDOT and other partners complete 7 wildlife migration structures in 2023

UDOT has secured funding for three additional projects, including one in Summit County and one in Wasatch County

UTAH — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Utah Department of Transportation and other partners installed seven new structures across the state in 2023 to promote safe wildlife migration both on land and in the water.

The new structures include overpasses, bridges, culverts, and fish ladders. These are designed to allow animals to safely cross roads and rivers.

“Utah made history when it completed the first wildlife overpass in the U.S. in 1975 on I-15 near Beaver,” said Nicole Nielson, DWR wildlife impact analysis coordinator. “Since then, at least 119 structures have been completed around the state that allow the passage of wildlife and fish.”

According to a press release from the DWR, the seven structures completed in 2023 include:

Central Utah

  • Installed over 2 miles of wildlife-exclusion fencing as part of the Eagle Mountain Migration Corridor preservation project between State Route 73 and Camp Williams. This project was completed in November 2023 in coordination with Eagle Mountain City and several conservation groups.
  • Installed approximately 1 mile of wildlife-exclusion fencing on I-80 near Kimball Junction. The project was completed in October 2023 in conjunction with UDOT and other conservation groups.

Northern Utah

  • Installed approximately 3 miles of wildlife-exclusion fencing on I-15 near Riverside, in conjunction with UDOT and conservation groups. This is part of a larger project that will include 10 miles of wildlife fencing that will be completed in spring 2024.
  • Installed wildlife-exclusion fencing on U.S. 89 in Davis and Weber counties, as part of a larger construction project in the area.

Southern Utah

  • Constructed a fish passage barrier on Pleasant Creek, located on the east slope of Boulder Mountain in Garfield County. This barrier will protect native Colorado River cutthroat trout from non-native brook trout. Funded by Utah’s Habitat Council, this project will also aid in the future restoration of native cutthroat trout in upper Pleasant Creek.
  • Reconstructed a fish passage barrier in Upper Kanab Creek, a tributary of the East Fork Sevier River in Kane County. (It was damaged by flooding after the Left Fork Fire in 2022.) This barrier was originally constructed to protect native fish species — including Bonneville cutthroat trout and southern leatherside chub — from non-native brown and brook trout. This reconstruction project was funded by the state of Utah and the U.S. Forest Service.

Southeastern Utah

  • The Gigliotti Diversion Dam was removed on the Price River to allow bluehead sucker and Colorado River cutthroat trout to access important rearing habitat upstream. This project was completed April 2023 and had several partners, including Trout Unlimited, Helper City and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to a press release from the DWR, UDOT has also secured funding for three additional projects, including one in Summit County and one in Wasatch County.

The first will be to replace and expand wildlife fencing in the area surrounding Echo Junction, near the intersection of I-80 and I-84 in Summit County. This is the first phase of the project, and is slated to take place in 2024.

The DWR has also partnered with UDOT to conduct a study in 2023 that analyzed the feasibility of wildlife crossings and fencing along Highway 40 in Duchesne and Wasatch counties. The two groups are currently working to apply for funding for future potential projects in this area.

“We are really excited about the grants that we have been able to secure to establish more wildlife crossings across Utah,” said Matt Howard, UDOT natural resource manager. “We’ve learned a lot about these funding processes and are hopeful that we can continue to obtain the necessary funding to implement additional wildlife structures across the state to keep wildlife and drivers safe.”

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