PROTECTING WILDLIFE ON HIGHWAY 3
Long term investment in the Crowsnest Pass creates change
What is the value of an Ecotrust grant?
In the short term, even the smallest of grants can create the opportunity for change. In the long term, it may change entire communities and how we interact with the environment around us.
“Beginning in 2004, we wanted to start compiling data of wildlife collisions along Highway 3 by utilizing citizen science combined with online mapping,” says Danah Duke, Executive Director at Miistakis Institute. “It is often very difficult to find funders who will take a risk, but Ecotrust fills a unique niche – they will frequently be the first funder in – creating opportunities to get projects off the ground and leverage additional funding.”
Nine years, six grants, and $107,000 later the entire landscape has changed along the Highway 3 corridor in Crowsnest Pass.
Road Watch in the Pass became the robust citizen science project that Miistakis originally envisioned, and has completely transitioned to a community led and organized program. Multiple grants have facilitated and enabled collaborative work among environmental non-profits working in the area, as Miistakis, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and the Western Transportation Group formed the Highway 3 Partnership in 2008 to tackle the challenge of wildlife-motor vehicle collisions together.
“Investing in the protection of wildlife and prevention of dangerous accidents along Highway 3 over the last decade is emblematic of our approach to funding environmental projects in Alberta,” explains Pat Letizia, Executive Director at Alberta Ecotrust. “We recognize that environmental problems are complex and often require consistent, long term strategic investments. In many cases, we are also funding other ENGOs who are project collaborators, so the cumulative impact of these grants is even more substantial. It might not be a large sum of money, but the opportunity for long-term impact is huge.”
After nine years, the local Crowsnest community is engaged and empowered, mitigation measures are beginning to be implemented at locations identified from local science, key areas in the corridor have been secured for conservation, and Alberta Transportation and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development are actively working towards future solutions with the community. Recently, Alberta Transportation committed to funding the installation of fencing and jump outs to an existing underpass to prevent bighorn sheep mortality at Crowsnest lakes. This fence will be installed by the fall of 2015. This would not have happened without the original and continued investment from Alberta Ecotrust.
To view the history and environmental situation along Highway 3 and Ecotrust funded projects, please see the attached infographic.