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USU Wildlife Crossing Efforts Lauded by Federal Highway Administration

Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013

USU faculty member and researcher Patricia Cramer and group with award

USU ecologist Patricia Cramer, center, accepts the FHWA's 2013 Environmental Excellence Award for Research during a ceremony at the recent annual meeting of American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials in Virginia Beach, Va.

deer at a crossing site in Summit County

Under I-80 in Utah's Summit County, Cramer recorded deer using a crossing. Cramer's team, along with partners from the Utah Dept. of Transportation and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources received national recognition for their efforts.

A wildlife crossing project led by Utah State University ecologist Patricia Cramer garnered the Federal Highway Administration’s top environmental research honor.

Cramer, assistant research professor in USU’s Department of Wildland Resources, accepted the FHWA’s 2013 Environmental Excellence Award for Research at the recent Annual Meeting of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, Standing Committee on the Environment held in Virginia Beach, Va.

Cramer’s collaborators on the project were also honored: USU Wildland Resources researchers Robert Hamlin and Megan Schwender MS’13; Kevin Womack, professor in USU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and associate administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration; Utah Department of Transportation officials Monte Aldridge, Chet Johnson, Shane Marshall, David Stevens, Rebecca Stromness, Randall Taylor, Paul West and Brandon Weston, as well as Utah Division of Wildlife Resources personnel Bruce Bonebrake, Rhett Boswell, Ashley Green, Pam Kramer and Doug Sakaguchi.

Selected from dozens of projects nationwide, USU’s “Wildlife Crossing in Utah: Determining What Works and Helping to Create the Best and Most Cost-Effective Structure Designs,” was lauded by FHWA for “advancing tools to support integrated approaches for transportation decision-making, including new methods for wildlife monitoring and best practices for the design and placement of wildlife crossing structure.”

“Beyond (Utah’s) borders, the project enhances state-of-the-practice knowledge of transportation’s effects on the natural environment across the country,” read the FHWA award citation. “The environmental research efforts of Dr. Cramer and USU and their partners demonstrate the practicality of incorporating wildlife considerations into the transportation planning process.”

“Our collaboration with transportation and wildlife officials has been a great working relationship,” Cramer says. “Nowhere else in the country have researchers and public officials jointly studied so many wildlife crossing structures in so many places for so long.”

The FHWA praised the USU-led team’s study that “stands to offer the state of Utah substantial cost savings in the coming years.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 200 Americans die in animal-vehicle accidents each year. In a recent study, the Centers for Disease Control found that one quarter of all animal-vehicle collisions result in human injury.

“Combining techniques such as wildlife corridor mapping, geographic information systems modeling and considering wildlife in long-range transportation plans, we can reduce these conflicts,” Cramer says. “We need to come up with standardized highway planning methods for wildlife and commit the funds for future wildlife crossings. These efforts pay for themselves.”

Cramer is featured in the newly released U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service training video, “Innovative Approaches to Wildlife/Highway Interactions.

Related links:

Contact: Patricia Cramer, 435-797-1289,

Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

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