ROAD WATCH IN THE PASSCategory: 2012, Community Grant, Completed, Grant, Land Use
In 2005, the Miistakis Institute developed and established a citizen science project called Road Watch in the Pass with the following objectives:
1. Gather, study, and share Highway # 3 wildlife crossing information with the local community, local decision makers and beyond to assist with wildlife vehicle collision (WVC) mitigation strategies.
2. To mobilize and facilitate local community and public support to implement effective wildlife crossing methods on Hwy # 3 in an effort to both mitigate WVC’s and to restore wildlife connectivity.
3. To provide general education about road ecology through a community engagement project.
Road Watch is now 7 years old, has collected over 5,000 citizen observed wildlife observations, contributed information to numerous planning processes in the region and acted as a spring board for identifying the locations along the highway where mitigation is important. Community members have participated in data collection, drawing and photo contests, action oriented projects (maintaining existing elk warning signs placed along the highway) and sharing and spreading knowledge on the project and issue within the local community.
Parts of the Road Watch journey are over, while others have just begun. In 2009, Miistakis stepped away from administering the project, but interested community members still run the project and continue to engage citizens in the conservation challenge of safe wildlife movement across Highway 3 through dialogue and regular meetings and events held within the local community. Miistakis continues to play an in-kind supporting role.
The role of this small passionate community group to foster community dialogue on the issue of wildlife and human safety along Highway 3 is imperative to the success of moving toward addressing this challenge. Road Watch continues to operate with Rob Schaufele in the role of volunteer coordinator. Recently the focus of the program has focused on 2 key objectives;
1. To provide general education about road ecology through community engagement projects.
2. To mobilize and facilitate local community and public support to implement effective wildlife crossing methods on Hwy # 3 in an effort to both mitigate WVC’s and to restore wildlife connectivity in conjunction with the Highway 3 Science and Mitigation Assessment project (partnership between Miistakis Institute, Western Transportation institute and Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative).
This project transitioned Road Watch from an initiative administered and guided by the Miistakis Institute to a community-lead initiative. This in itself lends to the importance and value the community sees in this initiative. The short term environmental outcomes included increased community dialogue on wildlife movement in the Crowsnest Pass and an increased political engagement in wildlife movement across Highway 3.