Man on a mission

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

At the same time I was sitting behind a desk writing this story, Scott Poindexter was embarking on a 25-mile sojourn heading east out of Port Angeles.

By Thursday or Friday, he’ll arrive on foot in Whatcom County as part of Walk4WildlifeCrossings, an ambitious undertaking that will see him ambulate across vast portions of the United States to raise awareness about the need to support federal and state funding for roadway wildlife crossings.

In addition to drawing attention to the approximately one million animals that die daily on U.S. roadways—along with the loss of hundreds of human lives annually, and the $8 billion in damage to people and vehicles—he hopes his actions will motivate people to contact their elected representatives, support the structures when donations are asked for, and sign petitions to further the process.

Poindexter, a Colorado resident and seasoned world traveler who says his life’s purpose is to “inspire personal empowerment and global conservation enlightenment,” began his quest in Washington in part because of the recent success of the 1-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project. Setting a new standard for creating safe passage for people and wildlife in the Cascade Mountains, the project helmed by the Washington State Department of Transportation will ultimately feature dozens of wildlife underpasses and three wildlife overpasses throughout a 15-mile stretch between Hyak and Easton.

“Collaboration and science have informed this project every step of the way, from design through construction,” WSDOT partner Conservation Northwest reports on its 1-90 Wildlife Watch website. “With several crossing structures complete and the full project funded, monitoring to ensure these measures are working is important. Additionally, wildlife monitoring on the habitat adjacent to the highway helps to inform natural resource management and conservation efforts while providing insight into what species may utilize the crossing structures in the future.”

Conservation Northwest is also involved in the Safe Passage 97 Project, a collaborative effort to save wildlife on a 12.5-mile stretch of Highway 97 in north-central Washington. More than 350 deer are hit by cars here each year, costing the public as much as $2.5 million when medical fees, car repairs, sheriff’s department response, WSDOF cleanup crews and the value of the deer are factored in.

Although Safe Passage 97 has had success in renovating the Janis Bridge to serve as an undercrossing—many animals including mule deer, bobcats and cougars have already avoided dangerous collisions with motorists—additional funding must be raised to complete the work.

“Conservation Northwest and the Safe Passage Highway 1-97 Project project are needing $10,000 to complete the initial project, and every donation helps,” Poindexter says. “This last remaining amount will be a huge win for wildlife and humans traveling through the area for years to come.”

In addition to posting ways people can donate or take further action to save the lives of wild animals and protect wild places, throughout the course of Walk4WildlifeCrossings, Poindexter will be posting about his experiences on his his BoldyExplore website, sharing wildlife nature photography from the road and writing in-depth blog posts.

“I’m hoping my little action of walking across the United States to make a difference ripples far and wide,” Poindexter says. “And that you join me for the walk and become inspired to connect and make a difference yourself.”

To find out more about Walk4WildlifeCrossings, go to http://www.boldlyexplore.com

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