The I-90 freeway also slices through the Cascade Mountains and connected ecosystems relied upon by treasured wildlife such as elk, wolverine, bear, deer, fox, and myriad species with habitat requirements—much like our own human need to move around our own neighborhoods and get to the grocery store and go about our daily lives.
Yet the animals are getting cut off by the I-90 corridor. They’re deterred by the traffic and the noise, for one thing, which affects their ability to roam in search of mates, food, and necessary territory for species survival. And of course, there are wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) every year, causing damage and death to animals and humans.
Cascade Crossroads is a documentary telling of how the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition was formed of people from different organizations and people of all persuasions, working together to develop a forward-thinking plan that included multiple wildlife overpasses and underpasses and whose work became a shining example of what can happen when business, community and government work collaboratively.
Something had to be done—but had to be done right
Spearheaded by an organization called Conservation Northwest and a collaborative effort that ultimately involved some 17,000 people and millions of dollars in funding, The Cascades Conservation Partnership helped secure 45,000 protected acres of National Forest Land for reconstruction of I-90. Out of this effort came the Wildlife Bridges Coalition, which included AAA Washington, Sierra Club, and many others.
Imagine the early days of this group, starting with representatives from road safety and wildlife protection as well as engineers at Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). There was a great deal of mistrust from the start, a lack of acceptance of the environmental engineers, for one, because of their conventional way of doing things. They were challenged with: What would it take to do it differently? To design something with wildlife in mind?
Getting the message—and the animals—across