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Pathways for Wildlife: Connecting Landscapes, Saving Lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains

  • REI 400 El Paseo de Saratoga San Jose, CA, 95130 United States (map)
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More than 350 animals were hit on Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains over the past eight years. One reason for this high rate of roadkill incidents is that Highway 17 currently lacks the appropriately designed structures (culverts and bridges) for animals to cross underneath or over the highway. Tanya Diamond and Ahiga Snyder of Pathways for Wildlife specialize in identifying, monitoring, and implementing connectivity designs for wildlife movement within a landscape. For years, Diamond and Snyder have developed habitat permeability maps for wildlife movement along Highway 17, using field camera stations, track/sign data, along with animal vehicle collision locations. By carefully monitoring local mountain lions and other at-risk species, they have identified suitable road crossing locations. Join Diamond and Snyder as they discuss the heartbreaking casualties, tireless effort and dramatic success of the Highway 17 Wildlife Connectivity Improvement Project, which will culminate with the protection of property and construction of a wildlife crossing at Laurel Curve, a key juncture along California’s fifth most dangerous highway.

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Tanya Diamond, a Wildlife Ecologist, has developed a research organization, Pathways for Wildlife, with her research partner Ahíga Snyder. Tanya received her MS in Conservation Biology & Ecology from San Jose State University. Her research and work involves creating wildlife linkage designs through wildlife surveys and GIS analysis. To implement these designs, she then collaborates with conservation organizations, such as land trusts, and transportation agencies to acquire funding to install wildlife crossing structures, such as culverts, for animals to move safely underneath roads and funding to preserve habitats within linkages areas that wildlife are using.

Ahíga Snyder is Co-Principal and a Wildlife Researcher at Pathways for Wildlife.  Ahíga works closely with land use planners to help inform them of conservation strategies with project research and data results. Ahíga also specializes conducting field meetings with project partners in working on acquiring funds for conservation of habitat linkages and ways to install wildlife crossing structures on highways for animals to safely cross the road.

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