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First tracks of I-90 success this season

Posted by Jen Watkins at Jan 07, 2014 01:00 AM |

We sent our citizen science volunteers out to track under I-90's newest wildlife underpasses, and they brought back just what we were looking for!

First tracks of I-90 success this season

Coyote trail exiting the crossing structure with volunteers Sierra and Randall recording the observation. Photo: T. Murphy

As the snow began to fall and construction on i-90 just east of Snoqualmie Pass paused for the winter, we began eagerly awaiting the first reports from our citizen scientists. Our volunteers are looking for signs of wildlife using the newly completed crossing structures at Gold Creek and Rocky Run in the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project

We didn't have to wait long. This past Saturday the news came: coyote tracks left in the snow showing the animal safely passing under 6 lanes of traffic above.

Longtime volunteer Thomas Murphy and his team of volunteer snowtrackers observed coyote tracks on the south end of the Gold Creek wildlife underpass. They followed the tracks all as the trail the way under I-90.

"This provides excellent evidence that animals are using these new structures. We recorded a second coyote trail through the sand along the creek," Thomas told me.

The Gold Creek underpass was completed, along with two additional wildlife underpasses, last year as part of Phase 1 of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project. Our citizen scientists have been recording wildlife presence throughout the project area since 2007, and just two years ago brought news of a coyote using one of the underpasses in the same location, when the underpass was only partially constructed. 

I've been looking forward to seeing this story of re-connecting habitat for wildlife play out through footprints and images of safe passage. It is one thing to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony when we complete construction of the bridges, but tremendously more meaningful now that we'll see the fish and wildlife using the structures.

Stay tuned as our winter season of wildlife monitoring continues, and don't forget to report any wildlife that you see from your car along Interstate 90 from North Bend to Easton at I-90 Wildlife Watch.

 

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