Make Way For Mountain Lions!

This ambitious bridge aims to connect isolated wildlife populations.

Mar 13, 2022
Make Way For Mountain Lions! | This ambitious bridge aims to connect isolated wildlife populations.

They say “the grass is greener on the other side of the bridge,” but what if the bridge itself could be just as green?

The Wallis Annenburg Wildlife Crossing in California aims to answer this question. It will help integrate animal and human populations living in close quarters and will allow wildlife to travel and mix with neighbors so promoting genetic diversity more safely and easily.

At the center of the plans for the crossing is one brave mountain lion who inspired a generation of Californians

The Brad Pitt of cougars
Southern California has made an effort in recent decades to preserve the pristine habitants of native species of plants and animals. Griffith Park, a 4,310 acre area in Los Angeles, California, is just that niche.

The East Sider LA reports that the park does its job well. Animals are returning to the area to live amongst the forests and brooks. In particular, mountain lion P-22 (also known as the “Brad Pitt of cougars”) has become a celebrity amongst locals, for relocating himself from the Santa Monica Mountains (more than 50 miles away!) and setting up shop in Griffith Park.

Like the many human celebrities in LA, P-22 lives the good life. Still, California’s regional executive direction of the National Wildlife Foundation, Beth Pratt worries for him. 

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A post shared by P22 Mountain Lion of Hollywood (@p22mountainlion)

As a city lion, hemmed in on all sides by concrete barriers, and dangerous highway crossings, P-22 has difficulty reaching his fellow cougars for play and family. 

Curbed reports that P-22’s plight isn’t so unique. Highways that divide open spaces threaten the diversity and safety of the wildlife living there. Pratt advocates for ways to allow animals on both sides to mix safely without risking collision.

As she explains, wildlife crossings are key for restoring biodiversity. “We don’t necessarily need a Yosemite on every block, but we do need to connect these parcels of open space.”

The largest wildlife crossing
P-22’s plight became the inspiration for the world’s largest wildlife bridge.

Los Angeles Times explains, between private and corporate donors and city funds, $87 million dollars has been allotted to building the world's largest wildlife crossing.

This project, the Wallis Annenburg Wildlife Crossing, aims to span the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area which is currently divided by the 101 Freeway. Crossing the highway is dangerous for animals, even the ones who look both ways first.

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A post shared by Annenberg Foundation (@annenbergfdn)

The land bridge aims to change that. The plan is to build a giant acre wide bridge spanning the highway. This will give wildlife a safe way to cross and mix with populations on the other side. 

And not only will the bridge help animals avoid the traffic, but it itself will be overgrown with plants and trees. The matte material of the structure itself will shelter animals on the bridge from the sounds and sights of the road below. 

Although this bridge, slated for completion in 2023, isn’t near Griffith Park and therefore won’t help P-22, it may help thousands of other mountain lions in similar situations. 

Pratt sums it up, “This is an unprecedented project that Los Angeles should be incredibly proud of.” 

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Adina is a writer who believes in the transformative power of words. She understands that everyone has a valuable story to tell. Adina’s goal is to learn new things every day and share her discoveries with others.