June 10 2011

4 Reasons for Wildlife Crossings and Green Bridges

With the increase of vehicular traffic across the United States, and most other countries, many habitats have or are becoming forever divided, damaged, and broken due to the construction of a road, highway, or interstate.

Much of these habitat disturbances leave wildlife separated from their native territories, and in grave danger when crossing roads, highways, and interstates. In response to the increased threat to wildlife, designers in the Netherlands, during the 1950s, proposed and implemented what is credited as the first “wildlife crossing.” The crossing was a bridge that spanned a two-way highway, allowing cars to pass under, and wildlife to pass over, without the two interacting. This architectural model continues to be implemented today, with design ideas that expanded to tunnels, parabolic bridges, and even waterways crossing waterways.

Wildlife crossings serve 4 purposes:

  1. Increase wildlife safety;
  2. Allow for natural wildlife migration;
  3. Decrease animal related vehicular accidents;
  4. Weave together separated landscapes.

However, few realize that Green Bridges were conceived, designed, and implemented in Maryland nearly two decades before the 1950s model was constructed in Europe. In the outskirts of Fair Hill, Maryland, William DuPont designed bridges, in the 1930s, which funneled wildlife, horses, and foxhunters, over roadways that ran through his 8,000-acre parcel. With the use of a “super-fence” bordering the roadways, the bridges subsequently stitched together his 8,000-acre parcel of land so no wildlife had to set foot on the road.

Today, wildlife crossings are becoming more common, especially with the onset of competitions such as the ARC wildlife crossing competition. The competition’s goal is to raise “international awareness of a need to better reconcile human and wildlife mobility through a more creative, flexible and innovative system of road and habitat networks in our landscapes. Dynamic designs from Landscape Architects Valkenburgh & Associates, the Olin Studio, and others, highlighted unique methods of safely and effectively transporting wildlife across a Colorado highway, while weaving together the native landscape.

With increased awareness, creativity, and modularity of wildlife crossings, what do you think the next level of crossings will look like?

Paul Drummond

Paul Drummond is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture. Paul received the A.S.L.A Student Honor Award and has worked as a teaching assistant at the University of Maryland, along with shoreline restoration companies along the Chesapeake Bay. A native of Maryland and having lived on both sides of the state, Paul draws inspiration and ecological awareness from the entire state, ranging from the Appalachian Mountains of Western Maryland, to the estuaries, marshes, and agrarian landscape of the Eastern Shore.

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This entry was posted on Friday, June 10th, 2011 at 9:04 pm and is filed under Architecture, Engineering, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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