Massive Wildlife Corridor Will Help Animals Safely Cross Major LA Freeway

The California project is the largest of its kind.

Lauren Wellbank - Author

Apr. 25 2024, Published 3:21 p.m. ET

The Annenberg Foundation's Wildlife Crossing
Source: Getty Images

The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing construction site in Los Angeles, photographed on April 15, 2024.

Creatures both big and small will have Wallis Annenberg to thank for their wildlife corridor, which is being built to help animals safely cross the 101 freeway in Los Angeles. The goal of this corridor — which will bridge the gap between different sections of the biodiverse Santa Monica Mountains, Simi Hills, and more — is to protect some of the wildlife that call the region home and help with local conservation efforts.

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The project broke ground in April 2022, and has since met many milestones, including funding initiatives that once seemed out of reach for this massive undertaking. And in April 2024, roads are closing to allow for the next phase of construction. Here's everything you need to know about the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, including when you can expect to see the completed project in action.

Wallis Annenberg, Chairman, President, and CEO Annenberg Foundation speaks at a podium at the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing Groundbreaking Celebration on April 22, 2022 in Agoura Hills, Calif.
Source: Getty Images

Chairman, President & CEO, Annenberg Foundation Wallis Annenberg speaks at the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing Groundbreaking Celebration on April 22, 2022 in Agoura Hills, Calif.

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Where is the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing being built?

Anyone living in or traveling through the Los Angeles County city of Agoura Hills can get a peek at the wildlife crossing, which will connect the Santa Monica Mountains with the Sierra Madre Range, creating a sustainable and safe passage for animals who were previously forced to choose between crossing the dangerous 101 freeway, or remaining restricted to impossibly small territories.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has been an eager supporter of this project, and the California state website has highlighted some of the benefits animals can expect to experience, especially as it pertains to the region's mountain lion population. According to the website, the consequences of the 101 have been dire for the big cats, causing mountain lions to experience increased territorial battles and low genetic diversity thanks to inbreeding.

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Of course, mountain lions aren't the only creatures who stand to benefit; coyotes, gray foxes, mule deer, and bobcats are also expected to use the corridor once it's finished, giving them a safe passage as they cruise between the mountains hills and ranges.

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When will the 101 Wildlife Crossing open in California?

Animals and conservationists alike will have to wait to see the corridor in action, since it isn't expected to be completed until sometime in 2025. This timeline is much sooner than original estimates, thanks to some record-breaking fundraising from the Annenberg Foundation, which issued a 1 million dollar challenge grant to help drum up some contributions from both local leaders and the communities they serve.

That influx of cash allowed developers to bump up their expected timeline, since they originally didn't think they'd have the funds to even begin construction until 2025. In April 2024, the city of Agoura Hills announced various road closures to accommodate the construction; if you live in the area, you can find pertinent road info here.

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The Annenberg Foundation didn't do all of this alone. The group's website gives a shoutout to the more than 3,000 other contributors who helped raise enough to kick this project into high gear so the team could start working on the "environmental rejuvenation" that Annenberg hopes to see as a result of the work.

Once the corridor finally opens for business, it will be the largest of its kind in the world. Hopefully, its existence is enough to show other leaders and philanthropists how they can accomplish something similar in other regions that are desperately in need of safer means of passage for wildlife they live alongside.

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