Park City wildlife activists hit roadblocks on SR 224 protections
Animal rights nonprofit Save People Save Wildlife is looking to expand fencing and add wildlife crossings to state Route 224 before it’s widened in a few years.
Save People Save Wildlife has long attempted to eliminate vehicle-animal collisions on state Route 224, pushing for the reduced 45 mph speed limit and funding reflective animal silhouettes along the corridor.
But it looks unlikely they’ll get additional fencing or wildlife crossings before then. The wildlife group met with High Valley Transit, which is spearheading the bus rapid transit project, late last year.
Save People Save Wildlife President Erin Ferguson said her organization hoped to get donations and grants to add wildlife protections at the same time the road gets widened. She said High Valley “wasn’t receptive.”
High Valley Executive Director Caroline Rodriguez wasn’t able to comment for this report, but she told the Park City Council two weeks ago they’re deferring to wildlife experts for a holistic solution.
“We do things on our own right now,” Rodriguez said. “For example, our drivers have specific training; we have whistles on the vehicles.”
Rodriguez would prefer Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources make the call on wildlife mitigations. All the data she’s seen does not indicate state Route 224 is a wildlife migration corridor.
Still, she said High Valley meets with the local and state governments regularly to discuss solutions. The consensus so far is a solution is needed across the entire state Route 224 corridor.
“If we wanted to put in an underpass, from an engineering standpoint, we would need to raise state Route 224 corridor-wide,” Rodriguez told Park City councilmembers.
So Save People Save Wildlife has turned to the Utah Department of Transportation, including raising the issue at its monthly meeting Jan. 29.
Ferguson said, based on that meeting, UDOT is more focused on public safety than wildlife.
“So wildlife fencing, wildlife crossings kind of bumps down the list a little bit,” Ferguson said. “But that was an honest answer, which is very much appreciated.”
UDOT Region 2 spokesperson Kylar Sharp said the wildlife group is a partner and the Jan. 29 meeting focused on state Route 224 maintenance. Despite the lower priority, Ferguson said she learned UDOT’s project planner is working on possible locations for wildlife crossings.
Ferguson stresses her organization is neutral on the issue of whether to widen the road. She said advocates see it as an opportunity to increase wildlife connectivity.
The state Route 224 bus rapid transit expansion was originally scheduled to launch in 2025. It has since been delayed two years.