Colorado's I-70 near Vail Pass Credit: Summit County Safe Passages

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado – A new $725,000 grant awarded to Summit County, Colorado, will help push forward the county’s East Vail Pass Wildlife Crossing Project, a project aiming to create wildlife crossings on I-70.

According to a news release from the county, a $450,000 grant will be provided through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s 2024 RESTORE Grant Program funding awards. Meanwhile, another $275,000 in matching funds will come from the Colorado Wildlife Safe Passages Fund. The $725,000 will enable design and planning for the new passes.

We are incredibly grateful for these funds that will be dedicated to the East Vail Pass Wildlife Crossing Project. This is an important highway improvement strategy to be implemented right in our backyard. It will protect our beloved wildlife populations and improve motorist safety on the I-70 mountain corridor.” – Summit County Commissioner Nina Waters

A 2020 study completed between Summit County Safe Passages and the US Forest Service recommended a two wildlife underpasses and one overpass along I-70’s westbound lane between Cooper Mountain and Vail Pass. Ideally, these passes would allow animals to cross the highway to safety while reducing the number of animal involved road accidents.

Large bridges along the eastbound lanes of I-70 do currently allow passage through, but passing both sides of the highway currently requires directly crossing the westbound lanes.

Since 2017, our small but mighty group of committed volunteers has envisioned creating safe passages for wildlife to move through Colorado’s central Rocky Mountains long-since severed by the bustling I-70 corridor. Funding support from NFWF and Colorado’s Safe Passages Fund represents a major milestone on the path to reconnecting the East Vail Pass landscape for generations to come.” – Board Chair for Summit County Safe Passages Julia Kintsch

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