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US 97 - North of Goldendale - Wildlife Habitat Connectivity

Status: Complete

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A lot of wildlife has been observed and photographed in the area where this project was built. More photos...


April 2014

  • We completed this project in spring 2014.

This project built a new bridge on US 97 over Butler Creek, nine miles north of Goldendale, and installed eight-foot fences to help guide wildlife to cross underneath the highway instead of running through traffic on US 97.

The crossing also improved fish passage in Butler Creek by removing a fish barrier culvert.

Why is WSDOT building this wildlife crossing?
The crossing serves two purposes: it reduced the number of animals crossing US 97 and provides 10 miles of additional habitat for fish.

Statewide, more than 1,100 wildlife/vehicle collisions are reported to the Washington State Patrol every year. This section of US 97 runs through an area with a robust wildife population that includes elk, deer and bear. 

The sheer number of animals crossing the highway meant more chances for wildlife/vehicle collisions.

Animals can also be deterred from crossing because of highway traffic, which affects the quality of local habitat.

Butler Creek provides habitat for steelhead and trout. During low water flow, such as in the summer, the culvert sits too high above the creek and fish can't swim through. During high water flow, the water velocity is too strong for fish to navigate.

The End Result
The chance for wildlife/vehicle collisions was reduced. Wildlife will have safer access to habitat on either side of US 97, and fish will have unrestricted access to upstream habitat.

Project Benefits

  • Safety: Fewer wildlife/vehicle collisions.
  • Environmental: Improved access to habitat for both wildlife and fish.

What is the project timeline?

  • May 21, 2012: Construction contract awarded
  • June 25, 2012: Construction began
  • Spring 2014: Construction complete

Financial Information

2005 gas tax (TPA): $2.9 million
Total funding available: $2.9 million

How can I get more information?

Area Engineer Chris Tams
WSDOT Columbia Gorge Project Office 
11018 NE 51st Circle
Vancouver, WA 98682
Phone: 360-759-1310, or toll-free at 1-866-279-0730


Abbi Russell
WSDOT Communications
11018 NE 51st Circle
Vancouver, WA 98682
Phone: 360-905-2058

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