Wildlife in urban Orange County have a safe way to cross the freeway thanks to a collaboration among OCTA, the Irvine Ranch Conservancy (IRC), CalTrans, California State Parks, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Begun in 2017, the five-year project is set for completion in December 2022.
Due to its convenient location and connection to multiple parks and open spaces, Coal Canyon in Anaheim is one of the main crossing points for wildlife between the Santa Ana Mountains and Chino Hills State Park. A decommissioned off-ramp in Coal Canyon under SR-91 has been transformed into a safe passage for wildlife such as mule deer, bobcats, and mountain lions which are known to travel long distances.
OCTA funded the Coal Canyon Undercrossing as a part of the IRC West Loma restoration project and developed an innovative plan to benefit wildlife movement. Rather than using fencing, OCTA determined that placing cameras, installing plantings and monitoring the Coal Canyon undercrossing would assist animals crossing the freeway. The Wildlife Agencies agreed. OCTA paid for the restoration work as part of the OC Go Environmental Mitigation Program and the OCTA M2 Conservation Plan.
IRC enhanced the area with native plants and installed and monitored seven wildlife cameras to track movement through the crossing. The Coal Canyon wildlife crossing project is set for completion in December of 2022 after five years of restoration work and monitoring. After the wildlife camera data is analyzed, officials from the various stakeholders will determine if additional improvements need to be made.