This is P32, one of the most recent Malibu mountain lion kittens. It's a visual reminder of what is at stake if the Liberty Canyon wildlife overpass isn't built. Photo: National Park Service
Although the resolution is a symbolic gesture it sends an important message that the community is in favor of the project. Other cities, including Agoura Hills and Calabasas, where the proposed overpass will actually be built, are expected to pass resolutions soon.
Malibu City Council members Lou La Monte and Laura Rosenthal participated in the September 18 rally at Liberty Canyon. La Monte immediately brought the resolution proposal to the council and asked that it be placed on the agenda. Politics in Malibu can be extremely fierce and contentious, but this was one issue that appears to have universal support.
This post is for everyone who asked about the mountain lion rally at Liberty Canyon. My official account is in the September 22 Malibu Surfside News, so this is a sort of back stage look at the event, which attracted more than 300 wildlife crossing supporters and the attention of some major national media outsets, including the Wall Street Journal.
The rally took place on the north side of the 101 on property owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy that is adjacent to the freeway. In order to reach the location, 300-plus activists, reporters, school children, politicians and officials had to cross under the freeway, getting a firsthand taste of what mountain lions and other wildlife have to go through. I know I didn't enjoy the experience, and at least we human animals understand about looking both ways for oncoming traffic.
At last, the press tour gets underway. This is Beth Pratt, the National Wildlife Federation's California director, one of the overpass project's most passionate advocates. She began the event by showing off her tattoo of P22, the Griffith Park mountain lion that is her inspiration.
|National Park Service wildlife ecologist Seth Riley guides the press under the freeway, pointing out all of the hazards.|
|Riley led the entire troop of press, activists and officials across the offramp and down the side of a steep embankment that is part of Caltrans right of way.|
Like the Brave Old Duke of York's 10,000 men in the nursery rhyme, everyone marched up the hill and back down the hill again. We had someone to direct traffic this time. A luxury the mountain lions don't get to enjoy. Not yet.
Malibu resident and former California Coastal Commissioner Sara Wan addresses the crowd on behave of her wildlife advocacy organization the Western Alliance for Nature. The organization is joining with the National Wildlife Federation to raise funds for the project. Wan told me that she's optimistic that we can make this plan a reality. She points to numerous other successful wildlife road crossings in the US, Canada and all over the world.
That's Poison Free Malibu founder Kian Schulman with the owl poster, reminding everyone that rodenticide is also a deadly threat to wildlife like mountain lions. Members of PFM were also at the Malibu City Council meeting on October 13 to support the city's resolution.
Local school children gather with National Wildlife Federation mascot Ranger Rick for a group photo. These kids raised the first $200 donation for the project, which they presented to NWF President and CEO Collin O'Mara at the rally.
Everyone, even reporters, had an opportunity to take a photo with a life-sized P-22 against the backdrop of the freeway.
Liberty Canyon wildlife crossing project proponents are hoping to have the funding, plans and permits in place to break ground in 2018, but they can't do it without our help. In order to succeed, this project needs all the public support it can get. More information on the campaign to build the bridge is available at http:www.savelacougars.org
18 October 2014