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Connectivity and Collaboration: Creating Safe Passage on I-26 and Beyond

April 23 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

This program is co-hosted by the Ramsey Center for Appalachian Studies, the Department of Ecology and Conservation, and the Environmental Studies Department.

Traveling always involves risk for humans. But roads pose a serious challenge to wildlife, forming barriers that disrupt the natural flow and habitat connectivity that are necessary for species long-term health and survival—especially in our increasingly unstable and changing climate. One solution has been shown to improve the safety of both wildlife and travelers: wildlife crossings.

Concerned citizens and researchers are working to understand where animals are moving and getting killed along a 14-mile stretch of Interstate 26 near the Appalachian Trail not far from Mars Hill. They are exploring how various types of wildlife crossing structures might help animals cross and reestablish movement corridors they used for millennia before roads were built.

Learn about road ecology from Steve Goodman, conservation biologist with National Parks Conservation Association, and Frances Figart, creative services director with Smokies Life. Steve has studied wildlife mortality and activity patterns and made recommendations for improving connectivity along Interstate 40 in the Pigeon River Gorge near the Smokies and, for the last two years, with the help of local volunteers, has been studying I-26. Frances is the author of A Search for Safe Passage, an educational fable about 19 animals working together to find solutions. She has also written numerous newspaper and magazine articles on wildlife and their conservation needs across the region.

This event is free and open to the public.