Petitions seek commitment to Oracle wildlife funds - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Petitions seek commitment to Oracle wildlife funds

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Posted: Wednesday, February 4, 2009 12:00 am

A conservation group is petitioning the Regional Transportation Authority to commit funds for wildlife crossings — to include a land bridge — at Oracle Road between Catalina and Oro Valley.

The crossings, adjacent to the planned undeveloped zone through the Arroyo Grande state land parcel, would connect the Tortolita and Santa Catalina mountain ranges. It has been identified as a “critical landscape linkage,” according to the petition, circulated for the first time last week at an Oracle Road construction project open house.

“We would like to document the public support,” said Carolyn Campbell, executive director for the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection.

Oracle Road is “a major impediment to wildlife movement,” the petition indicates.

To resolve the conflict, “we’re interested in a land bridge” among several wildlife crossings between mileposts 84 and 85 on North Oracle Road. Land bridges have been demonstrated “the best structure for a variety of wildlife,” Campbell said.

Land bridges are “more expensive,” she continued. “To do wildlife crossings right, it could be a significant chunk of money.”

Representatives of the Arizona Department of Transportation said last week they do not have money within the road project budget for wildlife crossings. They specifically mentioned RTA as a potential source for wildlife crossing funds.

When voters approved RTA funding in 2006, they allotted $45 million to fund “the construction of structures to increase landscape permeability,” the petition reads.

Petitioners want RTA to use some of those funds “to construct crossing structures, including a land bridge, over and under Oracle Road/SR 77,” it concludes.

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