SR77 Wildlife Gate and Fencing Ribbon Cutting Event

On April 19, 2023, the Town of Oro Valley hosted a ribbon cutting to celebrate the culmination of a years-long collaboration between the Town, surrounding neighbors and regional partners to preserve scenic views, fix fencing gaps, and protect wildlife along SR 77 near the wildlife crossings.


Pat Miller, a CSDP Desert Monitor volunteer and a local resident involved with the project, took this photo of the completed wildlife gate at Big Wash Overlook Place, one of two automatic gates installed near the wildlife underpass.


“This has been quite an effort on the part of groups with a wide variety of needs. Biologists, government agencies, and wildlife connectivity advocates were at odds with Oro Valley residents’ concerns about scenic views at the start of this project, with no solution seemingly possible. But collaboration won the day, with groups working literally for years to find a solution that works for both wildlife and residents. Today is a celebration of that effort,” said CSDP Executive Director Carolyn Campbell

An artistic rendering of the new wildlife gates from 2021.


CSDP Executive Director Carolyn Campbell speaks at the ribbon cutting for the Oracle Road wildlife gates and fencing. Photo courtesy Town of Oro Valley. 


The new wildlife gates in action. Photo courtesy Town of Oro Valley. 


Community partners celebrate the official completion and opening of the Oracle Road wildlife gates. Photo courtesy Town of Oro Valley.


About the project
The gate and fence project was funded by the Pima Association of Governments/Regional Transportation Authority (PAG/RTA). The Town of Oro Valley served as project administrator, with work done by AECOM, Sellers & Sons, Inc., Ninyo & Moore and Tucson Electric Power.

As part of the SR 77 road widening project improvements, game fences had been installed on both sides of the SR 77 corridor from Tangerine Road to the Pinal County line. In this area, a 10-foot-high fence was initially planned to be installed on the back side of homes along the Big Wash. This would route wildlife to the previously established SR 77 wildlife crossings. However, residents in the area expressed a desire to see wildlife from their homes, and not look at a tall game fence. The Town of Oro Valley and PAG/RTA worked with neighbors, Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection to make changes to the existing fence and add gates across the roads to prevent wildlife from dangerously crossing SR 77, keeping wildlife in the Big Wash wildlife corridor.

“Oro Valley takes great pride in our natural open spaces and wildlife,” said Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield. “While building upon a previously established wildlife route, this project is truly a group effort to find solutions to protect wildlife without compromising our scenic views. We are grateful for the residents, conservation groups and regional partners who share our community’s values and collaborated with the Town of Oro Valley on this wonderful project.”

The SR 77 Wildlife Bridge was the first of its kind in Southern Arizona when construction finished in 2016. The bridge provides a safe crossing over SR 77 for wildlife including bobcats, desert tortoises and mule deer. One mile to the south, a large wildlife underpass provides another safe crossing point; the underpass is located adjacent to new wildlife gates and fencing. Regional conservation groups now monitor wildlife near the bridge and underpass using cameras.

“The wildlife fencing project has been ongoing since 2016 and has been a collaborative effort between the homeowners, the Town of Oro Valley, the RTA, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The gates and gap wildlife fencing should serve well to protect animals from entering Oracle Road and to use the animal underpass. Congratulations to all for this wonderful outcome,” said Pat Miller, a resident who has been involved in this project.

[Adapted from a Town of Oro Valley press release issued on April 7, 2023]