Mountain Lion

Goals & Objectives | Location | Updates & Timeline | Stakeholders & Partners | Media | Contact

Background

Midpen is working with Caltrans to develop wildlife and regional trail crossings across State Highway 17 near the Town of Los Gatos. The Highway 17 Wildlife and Regional Trail Crossings were identified as a Top 25 Priority as part of the District’s Vision Plan. Measure AA, a $300 million bond approved by voters in 2014 will provide partial funding of $14 million for the project. Midpen is leading this locally, regionally and nationally important project and will collaborate with many partners and stakeholders to complete this work.

Highways can be dangerous places for both people and wildlife. Hwy 17—from the southern border of the Town of Los Gatos to just south of the Bear Creek Road overcrossing—has been identified as a “road kill hot spot”. This area is dangerous to both animals and humans who try to navigate a busy stretch of narrow highway. As a result, over the last ten years, 132 animals have been killed in this section of Hwy 17, including mountain lions, deer, and other animals. Wildlife accessible culverts and bridges are needed to provide safe crossing for wildlife in an increasingly urbanized landscape. 

Hwy 17 has fragmented thousands of acres of open space in the Santa Cruz Mountains, limiting the ability of wildlife to find food, mates and habitat, and blocking several regional trail connections. Well-placed and appropriately designed crossings will help alleviate wildlife/vehicular collisions, enable wide-ranging animals like mountain lions to disperse, and provide recreational opportunities. To accommodate large animals and a variety of recreational trail users, a large crossing structure is needed.

Highway 17 Wildlife and Regional Trail Crossings Information Sheet

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Goals and Objectives

  • Provide for safe movement of wildlife and recreational trail users across Highway 17.
  • Improve motorist safety by reducing the potential for collisions with wildlife (and recreational users).
  • Maintain healthy wildlife populations.
  • Improve regional trail connections.

As part of this project, Midpen will partner with the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council and others to approximately 30,600 acres of protected public lands on either side of Hwy 17.

Potential Crossing Locations

Potential Crossing Locations

1. Undercrossing at Ravine Culvert
From an opening in a steep-walled canyon on the west side of the highway, a wildlife crossing under the road would emerge on the east side of highway near a retaining wall along the Los Gatos Creek Trail. The extremely steep and rocky access  to the west is not suitable for a trail.

2. Undercrossing at Trout Creek
From an opening on the west side of the highway atTrout Creek, a wildlife crossing under the road would emerge  on the east side of the highway on an embankment above the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Mountain lions, deer and other wildlife frequently attempt to cross at this location, often unsuccessfully.

3/3a. New Overcrossing south of Trout Creek Canyon
3. From a level area above the west side of the highway, a vegetated overcrossing for people and wildlife.
3a. From a level area above the west side of the highway a traditional recreational trail bridge.
Either option would connect to a wide landing area on the east side of the highway that could be connected to the existing Los Gatos Creek trail.

4/4a. Undercrossing at Montevina and Alma Bridge Roads
4. A wide undercrossing for people and wildlife.
4a. A smaller trail-only undercrossing.
Either option would connect existing trails on the west side of the highway near Montevina Road with existing trails on the east side of the highway near Lexington Reservoir.

5/5a. New Overcrossing north of Trout Creek Canyon
5. From a level area above the west side of the highway, a vegetated overcrossing for people and wildlife.
5a. From a level area above the west side of the highway, a traditional recreational trail bridge.
Either option would connect to the east side of the highway.

Project Updates

  • Ongoing communications and meetings with partners and stakeholders identified the need for additional project alternatives. Eight alternatives at five locations are now under consideration (previously four alternatives/locations).
  • A project update and overview of the 8 proposed project alternatives will be presented to the Planning and Natural Resources Committee on June 5, 2018 and to the full Board of Directors on June 27, 2018. Interested public are welcome to attend either or both meetings.
  • A full presentation of the alternatives approved by the Board to advance through the Caltrans Project Study Report process will be presented at a public meeting scheduled for early fall 2018.

Project Timeline

Ongoing Partner development, stakeholder outreach, and funding.
2016 Feasibility Study
2017 - 2019 Caltrans Project Study Report
2019 - 2020 Environmental Review and Permitting
2020 - 2021 Plans and Specifications (Design)
2022 and beyond Construction

Key Stakeholders and Regional Partners

This project requires a high level of coordination and partnership. Partners in this project may include:

Midpen is continually devloping additional partnerships and working with stakeholders to grow this list as the project develops.

Media

New tunnels in Santa Cruz Mountains will provide cougars safe passage
San Jose Mercury News - October 15, 2016

Contact

For project information, contact Julie Andersen, Project Manager at Hwy17@openspace.org