Empowering Wildlife Safety and Community Building
Within the Environment collective giving area, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has awarded $160,000 in grants to the Yellowstone Safe Passages (YSP) project.
YSP is a locally-driven collaborative partnership with a mission to address and resolve the complex issue of wildlife-vehicle conflicts on Highway 89 in Southwest Montana and to generate broad public support for wildlife crossing structures and accommodations. Their work focuses primarily on elevating awareness amongst local residents about the negative impacts of wildlife-vehicle conflicts, coalition building, implementing science and highway monitoring programs, building relationships with the state transportation and wildlife agencies and engaging local community members. YSP partners include state and federal agencies, elected officials, private foundations, community groups, conservation groups, local landowners, business owners and individuals who are working to enhance the safety of people and wildlife traveling along Highway 89. The foundation helped YSP launch in 2020 with a grant to The Common Ground Project. The Common Ground Project supports individuals and organizations who seek to positively impact society and the environment through educational programming, collaborative leadership and cross-cultural community building. The foundation has continued to support The Common Ground Project. In addition, the foundation supports The Center for Large Landscape Conservation (CLLC) to complete a fine-scale highway assessment of the Highway 89 south corridor in partnership with YSP. The goal of the assessment is to locate potential wildlife accommodation projects, such as wildlife overpasses and underpasses. A grant awarded to CLLC in 2022 supports the work with YSP and its mission to promote ecological connectivity to support healthy wildlife habitats.
YSP envisions Upper Yellowstone as a place where visitors and locals can travel the highway without wildlife-related accidents, and where the highway doesn’t act as a barrier to annual and seasonal movement of Yellowstone’s wildlife populations.
The intended results of this work will be increased public awareness, advanced partnerships between local and regional stakeholders and reduced wildlife-vehicle conflicts.
YSP is building bridges in the social arena first and will then begin the construction of physical bridges that will be on the landscape for generations to come.
But building bridges is not the only overarching objective, YSP is also building community along the way.