The National Wildlife Federation’s #SaveLACougars campaign announced that fundraising for the wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon over the 101 Freeway reached a pivotal $18 million-mark last month. This includes a recent $1.4 million gift from a private donor—bringing the project’s fundraising to the homestretch and putting the groundbreaking within sight.

“The incredible support of people from around the world has allowed us to advance this project from a visionary idea to an impending reality. This past fall, we released new design visualizations, Caltrans will have the blueprints for the crossing completed this summer, and if fundraising remains strong, we will break ground in November,” said Beth Pratt, California Regional Executive Director for the National Wildlife Federation and leader of the #SaveLACougars campaign.

The wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon is expected to be the world’s largest crossing, and will serve as a model for urban wildlife conservation across the globe. It is also the first of its kind in the country to be funded primarily by private dollars. The project relies on the generosity of philanthropists, such as the anonymous donor from La Canada Flintridge, who has donated a total of $2 million to the project.

“I am inspired by people like this anonymous donor, who answered the call,” said Pratt. “Her donation—the largest from a private donor to date for the project—advances the crossing significantly. Her incredible legacy—and the legacy of all who donate—will be preventing the extinction of these magnificent mountain lions.”

Another long-time supporter, Carolyn Davis, contributed $500,000 to the effort this past December. “This project is especially near and dear to my heart because I live just a few miles away from Liberty Canyon,” Davis said. “I love cats of all sizes and am especially inspired by the beautiful and majestic mountain lions. I would encourage everyone to give whatever they can to help ensure a bright future for all of our wildlife neighbors who will enjoy the new wildlife crossing. Hopefully, this will become a model for more wildlife crossings in California!”

Other recent donors to the project include a couple from Kansas who have contributed $675,000 to date after reading about the plight of the Los Angeles area cougars in National Wildlife magazine, along with a resident of the community where the crossing will be located who contributed $250,000 on behalf of the M. Piuze Foundation in memory of its founder.

“The generosity of people has been overwhelming,” says Pratt, “but the campaign still needs leaders in the philanthropic community to invest now and help us break ground in November. It’s critical we reach that goal. We need a hero for these threatened cats, a hero to invest in their future. The mountain lions are running out of time. This crossing comes with an unprecedented naming opportunity for a leadership donor—over 300,000 cars a day will travel past it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for someone to help save a population of mountain lions and leave an enormous conservation legacy.”

The wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon was proposed in response to two decades of National Park Service research that revealed the urgent need to reconnect habitat fragmented by the freeway to save the increasingly endangered mountain lion population of the Santa Monica Mountains from likely extinction. The crossing will also reconnect a long-fragmented ecosystem for many other species of wildlife in an area recognized as part of one of only thirty-six biodiversity hotspots worldwide. 

To invest in this once-in-a-lifetime project for the next century that will save a threatened population of mountain lions and revolutionize the possibilities for wildlife conservation around the globe, please contact Beth Pratt at prattb@nwf.org or (209) 620-6271. Naming and recognition opportunities are available for leadership level donations.