Wildlife crossing project claims Capital City Communicator award

The Capital City Communicators, a group of Treasure Valley public relations professionals, honored ITD and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for efforts to keep motorists advised of a wildlife crossing construction project on Idaho 21. The award in the Media Relations/News Release category was announced April 29 during a banquet in Boise.

Reed Hollinshead took the lead for ITD in the cooperative media campaign with the Department of Fish and Game.

ITD completed a project last year on Idaho 21 to construct a wildlife underpass to help reduce the number of vehicle/animal collisions on the highway by creating an alternate crossing for the animals. Rather than having them go up and over the road, the underpass allows them to go under the road to get from one side to the other.

The project started in July, and the undercrossing tunnel was complete by the end of September. A compilation of the TV clips that resulted from ITD's efforts along with articles that appeared in the media, ITD news releases and social media efforts to increase public awareness contributed to the award selection.

ITD, Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game and the Boise River Wildlife Linkage Partnership were involved.

The campaign disseminated information about the wildlife crossing, and how it would decrease vehicle/animal collisions in the Idaho 21 corridor. In addition to getting word out about the project, ITD had the simultaneous goal of creating an accurate picture of the project and correcting any inaccurate public perceptions. We recognized that the media could be a huge ally in the project.

The area of Idaho 21 is located within alarger corridor that has been identified by a cooperative effort by ITD, IDFG and FHWA as a safety concern because of the high number of documented collisions involving motorists and deer and elk. Each year, between 150 and 210 collisions with mule deer and 5-10 collisions with elk have been recorded within the roadway corridor (Warm Springs and Idaho 21).

In the past 36 years, collisions with deer in the area have cost Idaho motorists an estimated $17.4 million. On an annual basis, that amounts to about $483,000. Given the magnitude of the cost of propertydamage, wildlife losses, and potential injury to motorists, the benefit of preventing future accidents is substantial.

Published 5-6-2011