2015-09-11 / Editorials

Wildlife bridge can’t be built with public money alone

With the numbers unleashed, we learn that the cost of the new Liberty Canyon wildlife bridge could hit $60 million (see related story on Page 1).

We knew the price of pet care was high, but this is a figure that boggles the mind.

Jokes aside, to see the potential cost of the corridor down on paper is a wake-up call for many of us who’ve voiced our support in favor of providing safe passage to our animal friends.

The breakdown goes like this: $19.2 million for capital outlay—including right-of-way acquisition for the wildlife corridor location in Liberty Canyon, Agoura Hills—and $37.6 million for construction of the 165-foot-wide, 200- foot-long land bridge that will span the 101 Freeway just north of the Liberty Canyon exit. Additional costs are sure to follow.

As you’ve heard, the wildlife bridge will allow Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills wildlife, especially the rare mountain lion, to cross the freeway safely.

A male cougar was struck by a car and killed while crossing the freeway at Liberty Canyon in 2013, one of several of the animals to die in recent years trying to find their way through the region’s web of freeways.

The rare cats have a hard enough time surviving as the world shrinks around them, and a natural bridge over the freeway might give them the edge they need. But it’s a big gamble.

How will all this be paid for, and will it be worth it?

The state’s healthcare costs are mushrooming; seniors can’t make ends meet; roads and infrastructure are aging. And isn’t there a drought going on? The taxpayer dollars needed to build a wildlife bridge could go a long way toward building one or more desalination plants for thirsty Southern California. It’s not necessarily an either-or proposition, but you get the idea.

The Simi Valley Acorn supports construction of the Liberty Canyon wildlife bridge because it will give the original inhabitants of this beautiful landscape an excellent chance to move freely and repopulate their species forever more. We owe it to them.

But it mustn’t proceed on the public’s dime only.

It’s time for big private money (CEOs and celebrities, we mean you) to step up and help pay for this ambitious venture.

To the $60-million mountain lion we say this: We love you, but you’re a luxury that we cannot afford without help.

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