Raised in Campaign: $4,950,000
There were times this past year when this project faced some long odds, but in the past several months all the pieces fell into place.
We secured the $1.6 million necessary to protect the last property around the tunnel (170 acres west of Highway 17), the California Transportation Commission granted $3.1 million for design and engineering, and Measure D passed providing $5 million for construction. The tentative construction date is in 2020!
The construction of a safe route across Highway 17 requires the protection of land on either side of the highway. In 2014, the Land Trust protected 290 acres east of Laurel Curve. In the year ahead we will protect 170 acres west of the highway, completing the land protection necessary for Caltrans to build a tunnel under the highway. We are working now with Caltrans and our state legislators to provide funding for building the tunnel.
The long-term survival of wildlife like the mountain lion requires a safe route across Highway 17 and large blocks of protected land.
It is not clear now what the tunnel will cost or whether the state will provide all the funds or require some private donations to help pay for it. Our campaign is designed to give us the flexibility to use funds in a variety of ways – with the goal of getting the tunnel built as soon as possible. Any funds not used to protect the land around the tunnel or to build the tunnel, will be used to protect additional wildlands necessary for the survival of wildlife in our county.
We expect to acquire an easement on the land west of Laurel Curve next in 2016. The state legislature is considering funding for the tunnel now and Caltrans is expected to make decisions in 2016. If the project is funded, construction is expected in 2019. Yes, we’d like it sooner too, but this is how long it takes.
10% of donations will go to support core Land Trust Stewardship and Operations.