Sonoran Desert Wildlife Linkages
Wildlife linkages are landscape connections that allow wildlife to move freely, as they need. They may also be called (or include) wildlife corridors, biological corridors, wildways, wildlife pathways, safe passages, connected habitats (connectivity), permeable landscapes (permeability), greenbelts, urban greenways, wildlands network, riparian corridors, and open space corridors. These linkages connect important habitat areas for wildlife, such as wilderness and National Forests, Parks, and Monuments, or undeveloped mountain ranges. They allow animals to move to new areas in search of mates, food, water, and new territory; for seasonal migration; or in response to fire and drought. Wildlife linkages are critical to the health of wildlife populations. A functioning wildlife linkage not only gives wildlife freedom to roam, but prevents inbreeding and species loss, and safeguards abundant biodiversity.
Healthy, connected wildlife linkages are a crucial piece of a healthy Sonoran Desert landscape. Unfortunately, urban development and roadway construction seriously threaten the ability of wildlife to freely – and safely – move where they need. But there are solutions that are a win-win for wildlife and for people. Preserving wildlife linkages in Pima County is one of the primary goals of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. Through a variety of projects, the Coalition hopes to preserve connected open space within wildlife linkages and facilitate the construction of wildlife crossings, such as bridges and underpasses, at key points along Pima County’s major roadways.
Learn more in our short (5 minute) film:
Safe Passages: Protecting Our Sonoran Desert Wildlife Linkages
The Coalition’s Wildlife Linkage projects are driven and supported by the vision and implementation of Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. Our projects currently include:
- Monitoring the newly-constructed large wildlife bridge and underpass across Oracle Road within the Santa Catalina-Tortolita Mountains wildlife linkage.
- Supporting the construction of two large wildlife underpasses and a wildlife bridge across State Route 86 within the Kitt Peak Wildlife Linkage on the Tohono O’odham Nation.
- Funding wildlife crossings and other smaller construction projects through our participation on the Regional Transportation Authority’s Wildlife Linkages Committee.
- Managing a large, volunteer-driven wildlife camera project.
- Facilitating and supporting the continued purchase and preservation of open space throughout eastern Pima County.
There have been a wide variety of successful wildlife crossing projects throughout the western states of the U.S., including our wildlife crossings in Pima County. To learn more about these projects, check out the report Wildlife Crossing Success Stories in the Western States published by ARC Solutions in January 2021. Additionally, this NYTimes article from June 2021 has some great videos of wildlife using wildlife crossings.