Wyoming lawmakers advance 3 bills to fund wildlife crossings

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers have advanced legislation that would help expand an existing network of highway crossings for wildlife.

The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation, Highways & Military Affairs unanimously approved three bills Friday creating a special wildlife conservation account to help pay for additional crossings, signage and game fences in sensitive wildlife habitats, the Caper Star-Tribune reported Friday.

“We unanimously and strongly advocate that you should request state funding, federal funding or non-traditional opportunities to incentivize and fund highway underpasses, overpasses, fence modifications, etc.,” the committee said in a statement.

The committee is expected to sponsor the bills in the 2020 legislative session, lawmakers said.

The fund could increase federal dollars appropriated under an infrastructure bill passed earlier this year, officials said.

Though not yet approved by the full Senate, the legislation contains $250 million for wildlife crossings at key migration chokepoints, officials said.

The sheer fact of having the account in place is “pretty powerful,” said Jenny DeSarro, a conservation coordinator for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

Migration corridors are a means of preserving wildlife and striking a balance between energy development and conservation interests, lawmakers said. A task force released recommendations last month advocating state-led management and language promoting more wildlife crossings on state highways.
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com

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