View from St. Joseph's Hill Preserve of highway and dam infrastructure that limits human and wildlife movement / photo by Aaron Peth

Highway 17 Wildlife and Trail Crossings

View from St. Joseph's Hill Preserve of highway and dam infrastructure that limits human and wildlife movement (Aaron Peth)

Public Comment Period Open for Environmental Documents

Midpen and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) have performed an environmental review of the project in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The environmental review examines the nature and extent of any potential adverse effects on the environment that could occur if the project is implemented. Based on the review, Midpen and Caltrans have prepared a joint Initial Study (IS) with Proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND)/Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed project. An MND is a statement by Midpen that the project will not have a significant effect on the environment because the project will include mitigation measures that will reduce identified project impacts to a less than significant level. The Notice of Intent and complete information regarding this project is available at

Public comments regarding the correctness, completeness, or adequacy of this Draft IS-MND/EA are invited and must be received before the end of the public review period. The public comment period is February 20, 2024 – March 22, 2024. Please send comments on the Draft ISMND/EA via e-mail to or to the following address: 5050 El Camino Real, Los Altos, CA 94022 (with attention to Jared Hart).

Public Meeting

A virtual public meeting will be held via Zoom on Thursday, March 7, 2024 at 6 p.m. for community members to provide public comments on the Draft IS-MND/EA. Meeting details will be provided on this page on Wednesday, March 6, 2024.

Highways connect us, but also divide the land and create barriers to safe passage for both wildlife and people. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, California state route 17 (Highway 17) fragments thousands of acres of open space, limiting the ability of wildlife to find food, mates and habitat, as well as preventing the completion of several regional trail systems. Together with private and public partners, neighbors and District constituents, Midpen is exploring the feasibility of developing two independent road crossings - a wildlife undercrossing and recreational trail overcrossing - to link over 30,000 acres of protected public lands.

The project also includes directional fencing that will help animals safely find their way to the wildlife crossing and a number of regional trail connections that will link the following Santa Clara County parks and Midpen open space preserves together across Highway 17: Sanborn County Park, El Sereno Preserve, Lexington Reservoir County Park, St. Joseph's Hill Preserve, Sierra Azul Preserve and Almaden Quicksilver County Park.

Natural Resources Protection and Restoration
Natural Resources
Public Access, Education, and Outreach
Public Access
Grant Funded
Grant Funded
illustration of a bird in flight next to the letters MAA
Measure AA
Highway 17 Trail and Wildlife Crossing Renderings






(This rendering is intended for illustrative purposes only and do not represent final design.
Project components, colors, materials, etc. will be finalized during the design phase.)


  • Link over 30,000 acres of habitat and protected public lands on both sides of Highway 17, including Midpen preserves (El Sereno, St Joseph's Hill and Sierra Azul) and Santa Clara County Parks (Lexington, Sanborn and Almaden Quicksilver)
  • Improve motorist safety by reducing the potential for collisions with wildlife
  • Maintain healthy wildlife populations
  • Provide two structures - one for wildlife and one for recreational trail users - that support safe movement across Highway 17
  • Connect over 50 miles of existing regional trails, including Bay Area Ridge Trail, Juan Bautista De Anza National Historic Trail and Los Gatos Creek Trail
  • Develop a Mitigation Credit Agreement (MCA) to offset potential ecological impacts from construction with project benefits like habitat connectivity


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View of Highway 17 in project area, looking north

While wildlife and trail crossings share similar goals, animals and people have unique needs and use crossings in different ways. To meet the requirements of both, two distinct and separate structures have been recommended to cross Highway 17: a wildlife undercrossing and a trail overcrossing. The following locations for each crossing structure are currently under environmental review:

  • a wildlife undercrossing at Trout Creek (2)
  • a trail overcrossing either south of Trout Creek Canyon (southern overcrossing) or north of Trout Creek Canyon (northern overcrossing)
Map of HIghway 17 Crossings, updated February 2022

(These renderings are intended for illustrative purposes only and do not represent final design.
Project components, colors, materials, etc. will be finalized during the design phase.)

Project Updates and Related Stories

In January 2023, Midpen hosted two community meetings (one in-person and one virtual) to provide a status update on the Highway 17 Wildlife and Trail Crossings Project, discuss the background and detailed alternatives, outline the next steps in the project process and provide opportunities to ask questions and receive feedback. Watch a recording of the virtual meeting below:


2016 - 2018Feasibility study and revised alternatives report
2018 - 2019Caltrans Project Study Report
Regional Trails Connection Study
2020 - 2024Environmental review and Caltrans Project Report
Current status: Midpen preparation of Project Approval (Preliminary Design) and Environmental Document (PA&ED) underway
2021 - 2024Mitigation Credit Agreement development phase
2024 - 2025Caltrans Plans, Specifications & Estimates (Final Design)
2025 and beyondBidding and construction (funding dependent)


Funded by Measure AA 2014 Open Space Bond

Measure AA Funding

The Highway 17 crossings project, including regional trail connections and wildlife directional fencing, was identified as a Top 25 priority in Midpen's 2014 Vision Plan. As a result, $16 million of voter-approved Measure AA funds are allocated to partially fund the project.

Additional Funding

As the project is currently estimated to cost $40 million, Midpen is collaborating with many partners and stakeholders to fund this work, including Senator Jim Beall, who facilitated a $5 million grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board, Senator Dave Cortese, who secured $2 million in the Budget Act of 2021, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which awarded a $1 million grant to the project in November 2021.