Colorado Prioritization Studies
In 2016, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) launched the West Slope Wildlife Prioritization Study (WSWPS). The WSWPS created a regional-scale approach to wildlife-highway mitigation to help inform CDOT decision-makers where best to focus limited transportation dollars across the West Slope. In 2020, CDOT and CPW kicked off the East Slope and Plains Wildlife Prioritization Study (ES&P WPS) as a partner study to the WSWPS
The research team identified, mapped, and prioritized highway segments across Colorado’s Western Slope. This prioritization was based on the risk of WVC and the need for mule deer and elk to cross highways during their migration. The WVC risk models were created to estimate the relationship between the roadway and road-adjacent attributes (tree cover, traffic volume and speed, winter range herd density) and relative WVC risk based on accident and carcass locations.
The resulting preliminary wildlife crossing mitigation recommendations provide a starting point for mitigation project planning and budgeting.
By focusing on data-driven priority areas, CDOT can develop well-designed mitigation to stretch limited funding resources to achieve the greatest benefits. Rather than addressing WVC problems on a site-by-site basis, the study provides proactive tools for pursuing strategic wildlife-highway mitigation where it is needed most.
Members of the Alliance are working with WSWPS researchers to find creative ways to implement the findings from the study and begin an East Slope and Plains Wildlife Prioritization Study (ES&PWPS). The Alliance will use the WSWPS and potential ES&PWPS results to identify statewide priority projects and integrate these projects into local and regional planning efforts