Every 26 seconds (or less), a driver hits an animal in the United States.
— Source: Safe Passage Project
Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses a large region in the southeast. While the park itself has a boundary, it's largely invisible and most certainly not acknowledged by wildlife. Access defines one aspect of genius and beauty specific to our public lands, but increased traffic volume and growing tourism threaten the species who call our wild places home. Interstate 40, connecting Knoxville to Ashville, is a primary thoroughfare for interstate travel. The corridor experiences a steady flow of animals in and out of the national park to adjacent public lands, which leads to human caused accidents that are not just dangerous, but deadly to wildlife and human. Road ecology increasingly is an important piece of our nation's conservation equation. The study of how wildlife navigates the landscape, the mortality of wildlife-vehicle collisions, the solutions to mitigate the "barrier effect" caused by I-40, all are of focus in the Safe Passage Project. The project is powered by an impressive coalition, including but not limited too, the Great Smoky Mountains Association who we are proud to support in their contributions to this important work.
We urge you to learn more here and get involved as the Safe Passage Project is the first initiative of its kind at scale east of the Mississippi. The output of such undoubtedly will lend to far reaching influence.