Minimizing impact of highways on Arizona’s wildlife topic of March 11 SALT Speakers Series

Posted 3/2/20

Animals move across the landscape on a daily and seasonal basis to find what they need to survive: food, water, cover and mates. Human-made barriers such as urban or deforested areas, highways, …

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Minimizing impact of highways on Arizona’s wildlife topic of March 11 SALT Speakers Series

Posted

Animals move across the landscape on a daily and seasonal basis to find what they need to survive: food, water, cover and mates. Human-made barriers such as urban or deforested areas, highways, railroads and canals interrupt these patterns, and pose long-term threats to wildlife populations.

In a world where activities to connect humans fragment the habitats of other organisms, wildlife managers and regional planners have been accounting for biological corridors that link core blocks of habitat in designing urban and transportation networks for 20 years, according to a release.

Norris Dodd, senior natural resource specialist for AZTEC Engineering Group, is internationally known for the type of work that allows officials to make informed decisions. He will bring more than 40 years of experience in natural resource management, research and administration to the 6:30 p.m. March 11 SALT Speakers Series in Room B-117 at the Apache Junction Multi-generational Center, 1035 N. Idaho Road.

The series is co-sponsored by the Superstition Area Land Trust and the Apache Junction Parks and Recreation Department, according to a release.

Talks are held on most second and fourth Wednesdays October-April. All are free and geared for the public. SALT is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Go to azsalt.org.

"Highways are considered one of the most significant forces altering natural ecosystems and im-pacting biodiversity. Measures to increase the ability of animals to cross highways and to move safely along highways within corridors have been undertaken," the release states.

"These include over- and under-passes and wildlife passage structures, which both allow animals to move and increase public safety. Vehicular collisions and human/wildlife interactions lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in costs each year in the US. Maintaining wildlife populations also has economic and social value given the large contribution of wildlife-based recreation to the economy of Arizona," the release states.

Within Pinal County alone, 23 wildlife movement corridors between core habitat blocks and seven riparian wildlife movement corridors have been identified.

The talk will highlight how these linkage assessments have focused efforts to promote wildlife connectivity as part of highway construction projects in Arizona and in Asia.

Mr. Dodd’s expertise in transportation and infrastructure projects runs the gamut from monitoring to planning to implementation.

He has worked for AZTEC since 2008, excluding the two-year period he worked for the Arizona Department of Transportation to establish and oversee its statewide wildlife connectivity program.

He retired from the Arizona Game and Fish Department after 29 years, in which he conducted a decade of road ecology/wildlife connectivity research, and helped pursue development of Arizona’s 2006 statewide wildlife linkage assessment, the release states.

He has been an international wildlife and bio-diversity consultant to the Asian Development Bank since 2014, currently working in Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh where he has conducted wildlife connectivity studies.

He is now overseeing design, construction, and monitoring of Asian elephant, Bengal tiger, and Asiatic one-horned rhino overpasses and underpasses. His academic degrees are from ASU, and he resides in Pinetop, Arizona.

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