David Bradway - Conservation Administrator
I had a great conversation about natural corridors the other day with a local engineer. This conversation got me thinking about how conservation affects our everyday lives. As I’m sure many have noticed, lately there have been a lot of roadkill deer in the ditches and roadsides on my commute not to mention opossums, raccoons, and squirrels. Through development, our intrusion into their space causes wildlife to venture into places dangerous for animals and drivers causing interactions that are often detrimental to the survival of the animal and sometimes to the human as well. Taking these interactions into account when planning and developing land uses can reduce the frequency of these human/animal interactions.
Natural corridors can easily be added to development plans and masterplans. These corridors can serve as pathways for animal movement that keep them away from motorways. These corridors can also be used by people for recreation, meditation, a break from urban areas, and, possibly, alternatives to normal automobile commutes. One great example of this is the Potter’s Bridge Trail. To reduce commute congestion and greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, commuters could drive to the trailhead and walk, run, or ride to their destination in Noblesville, Westfield, Carmel and beyond. Commuters may even see animals along their way that are drawn to these corridors.
Looking ahead at further development in the county, these types of corridors could be planned into developments to link green spaces together as a natural highway for humans and animals. This could lead to fewer high-speed interactions with animals and fewer frightened commuters. Interactions in these natural corridors would be far less dangerous than auto/animal interactions on the road.
Another great example of a natural corridor are the wildlife overpasses over the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park in Canada’s Alberta Province. What look like normal overpasses from the road are, from above, a natural passageway for wildlife to safely cross the highway. These passageways are planted with pine trees and wildflowers and lined with fences to keep animals in the natural area and out of danger. Along with fencing-in the stretches of highway in these areas, these corridors have reduced mortality rates by 50% in some species of large carnivores and up to 100% in species such as Elk. These corridors are used by more species than experts expected from small to large mammals and even snakes and toads. Experts have even seen increased genetic diversity in grizzly bears because the corridor allows the bears to cross the highway. More great info from this decades old conservation project can be found here.
Are you interested in conservation projects? Do you have land you want to ensure stays natural? The Hamilton County SWCD offers conservation programs for landowners to ensure land can stay natural and animals will have safe areas to inhabit and move around the landscape without putting themselves and others in danger. Call or stop in to inquire!
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