Heinrich, Luján, Vasquez Announce Federal Investments to Address Wildlife Crossings in Mescalero Apache Tribe

by Mescalero Apache Tribe | December 13, 2023 8:54 am

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, December 12, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.) announced a $480,000 investment for the Mescalero Apache Tribe from the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) new Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program to improve wildlife crossings along US-70. 

“I am so pleased to welcome this investment that will allow the Mescalero Apache Tribe to improve safety and reduce dangerous wildlife-vehicle collisions along US-70. Most every New Mexican welcomes the chance to see wildlife from their car window. But none of us want to experience that heart-stopping moment when a large animal darts in front of their car,” said Sen. Heinrich. “Building overpasses and underpasses specifically designed to give animals a safe place to cross busy highways has proven to be an effective way to reduce dangerous vehicle-wildlife collisions. Projects like this are exactly why I worked so hard to establish a first-of-its-kind $350 million Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program when Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.” 

“It is critical outdoor spaces are made with wildlife and public safety in mind,” said Sen. Luján. “That’s why I’m proud to welcome this investment to the Mescalero Apache Tribe to develop and maintain wildlife crossings. Wildlife plays a significant role in our state’s natural landscape and culture, and by investing in conservation efforts, this helps ensure the health and future of wildlife populations.”

“Coexisting with wildlife in mountainous regions, national forests, and Tribal lands means that we must reduce the chances of accidents and fatalities that often end in tragedy or unnecessarily reduce wildlife populations,” said Rep. Vasquez. “I’m pleased to announce $480,000 that will go directly to help the Mescalero Apache Tribe reduce these collisions and conflicts and protect people, wildlife and property from dangerous and far-too common vehicle collisions.”

In April, Sen. Heinrich welcomed U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg[1] to New Mexico, where he announced that his agency was opening up applications for the $350 million Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program that Heinrich helped to secure as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

This project also builds on Rep. Vasquez and Sen. Heinrich’s efforts to address wildlife corridors in the upcoming Farm Bill. Vasquez and Heinrich are working on legislation that allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide more resources and incentives for land stewards to increase habitat connectivity and wildlife movement as well as build off successful virtual fencing initiatives. 

DOT awarded a total of $480,000 in funding to the Mescalero Apache Tribe US-70 Wildlife Vehicle Collision Mitigation Feasibility Project. The project represents a much-needed investment into wildlife corridors to help prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions, support animal migration patterns and reduce habitat fragmentation. 

“I want to thank President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg for making this important investment in the Mescalero Apache Tribe,” said Mescalero Apache President, Gina Via. “Our Tribe has always prioritized public safety and promoted balance in living with our four-legged brothers and sisters. This cost-effective funding will reduce wildlife-related vehicle collisions and improve safety for our residents, visitors, and our wildlife.”

  1. Sen. Heinrich welcomed U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg: https://urldefense.com/v3/__https:/www.heinrich.senate.gov/newsroom/blog/safer-roads-save-lives__;!!Bg5easoyC-OII2vlEqY8mTBrtW-N4OJKAQ!Iq3kJKG-yUHSWFA9ehwkluzGdtIf52Gj-KpExHOHC4EzNFq6mGg7pzLdo41L0NPjFR6AQ9QvAKi1TEKlJoQj3jrkt171VPQ_ApBf2S_NraCCn3Sb$

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