Development of the Wildlife Corridors Action Plan
The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) recently finished developing an initial draft of the Wildlife Corridors Action Plan (Plan) in accordance with New Mexico Senate Bill 228, the Wildlife Corridors Act (Act). The Act, signed into law by New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2019, directs the NMDOT and the NMDGF to develop the Plan for NMDOT roads statewide. The Plan identifies wildlife-vehicle collision hotspots that pose a particularly high risk to the traveling public. Using ecological data and modeling, it also identifies wildlife corridors that bisect roads, and provides a list of priority projects based on the results of the Plan’s analysis. The Plan focuses primarily on the movements of six large mammals: elk, deer, black bear, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and mountain lion. However, other sensitive species and confounding factors were also taken into consideration when developing the priority project list.
A team of national experts led by Daniel B. Stephens and Associates (DBS&A), under contract with NMDOT, developed the Plan in partnership with NMDGF. Using NMDOT crash data and ecological information on wildlife movements, the team applied a science-driven approach to identify areas per the Act that “pose a risk to successful wildlife migration or that pose a risk to the traveling public.” The Plan builds on past and ongoing efforts and is intended to raise support for and consensus in the identification of priority wildlife corridors and priority projects across New Mexico. With the draft Plan now developed, the team is soliciting input from the general public, tribal governments and interested stakeholders.