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Event at Creekspirit Garden of Art Raises Funds for Planned Wildlife Crossing

Collaborative campaign sets its sights on helping save a population of mountain lions landlocked by L.A. freeways


The Creekspirit Wildlife Foundation sponsored a fundraising event on a beautiful Sunday afternoon May 6 at the organization’s homebase at the Creekspirit Garden of Art, 1000 Mission Canyon Road in Santa Barbara.

Scheduled to speak at the event was author Beth Pratt-Bergstrom, the California director of the National Wildlife Federation. Unfortunately, Pratt-Bergstrom, who lives in Yosemite, could not attend because of a personal emergency.

However, she was ably replaced by Berkeley-based attorney and Creekside board member Suzanne Weakley. She reported that this month, Caltrans announced that the environmental document has been completed for the planned wildlife crossing in Liberty Canyon in the Los Angeles area.

Weakley described Pratt-Bergsrom’s leadership of the #SaveLACougars campaign, which has highlighted the plight of the single male P-22 mountain lion that has been landlocked in a criss-cross of Los Angeles freeways near Griffin Park.

#SaveLACougars was born as a collaborative campaign to build the largest wildlife crossing in the world across one of the busiest freeways in the country to help save a population of mountain lions.

Weakley described the $10 million goal to raise the funds to construct the wildlife crossing, with $3.7 million already raised and $1 million to be matched by the Annenberg Foundation. Major gifts have included $100,000 from Boeing, $250,000 from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and a recent gift of $175,000 from an 80-year-old couple in Kansas.

Creekspirit Wildlife Foundation
Filmmaker Jeff McLoughlin and guest Carol Lazar. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

#SaveLACougars is seeking private philanthropic dollars and does not seek to divert state transportation or other taxpayer funds.

In a March report, the world’s foremost experts on wildlife connectivity and crossing structures found that the site at Liberty Canyon provided the best solution for serving the broadest range of species and that an overpass structure was the best solution for the broadest range of species.

“Twenty years of research shows that the biggest conservation challenge facing the Santa Monica Mountains is isolation by roads and development. This forward-looking project will help to end the isolation and reconnect natural habitat on both sides of the highway,” said David Szymanski, superintendent of the Santa Monica National Recreation Area.

After Weakley’s talk, filmmaker Jeff McLoughlin spoke to the assembled crowd about his documentary The Condor’s Shadow. The film captures the contemporary status of the California Condor Recovery Program and the challenges in pulling the species back from the brink of extinction. Recovered to more than 400 birds today (in the wild and in captivity), the condor reached a low point of just 22 in 1982.

Following his talk on the California condor, McLoughlin introduced and showed his latest film, The Artist & the Great Bear, a story about Creekspirit Wildlife Foundation President Patti Jacquemain and her role in inspiring concern for wildlife using the now-extinct California grizzly bear as an iconic symbol of species loss.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Creekspirit Wildlife Foundation, a private, nonprofit foundation. In order to take advantage of the matching grant from the Annenberg Foundation, the foundation will contribute a portion of the event proceeds to the National Wildlife Foundation’s special fund to support the wildlife crossing over Highway 101 at Liberty Canyon.

Click here for more information or to donate, or call 805.680.6910 or 805.682.9625, or email [email protected].

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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