DENVER —

Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) signed an executive order Wednesday to ensure the conservation of Colorado’s big game winter range and migration corridors.

The state has seen success with a number of wildlife passages around the state, most notably with Highway 9 south of Kremmling through the Blue River Valley, according to the governor's office.

Over an 11-year stretch, there were more than 650 wildlife-vehicle collisions on this section of highway. 

Through collaboration, a wildlife passage project was completed in November 2016 and consists of two wildlife overpass structures, five wildlife underpasses, 10.4 miles of eight-foot-high wildlife exclusion fencing, 61 wildlife escape ramps, and 29 wildlife guards to help reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions while providing safe passages for wildlife. 

>The video above is coverage of the opening of the Kremmling wildlife passage

“Colorado’s natural beauty and wildlife are part of why so many people love our great state,” Polis said. “This is a step toward better understanding and protecting the migratory patterns of Colorado’s wildlife populations and ensuring we can preserve our treasured animals and their habitats.”

RELATED: First wildlife overpass opens on Highway 9

The executive order opens the door for more projects like this by allowing the following:

  • The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will take a closer look at exactly where these animals are and how they’re moving around the state. This analysis will be continually updated, include assessment of top threats and identify key data gaps and other barriers.
  • DNR will also identify policy, regulatory and legislative opportunities to ensure ongoing conservation of seasonal big game habitat and migration corridors based on the latest available scientific data.

  • The Department of Transportation (CDOT) will incorporate ongoing consideration of big game migration into all levels of its planning process in order to enable safe wildlife passage and reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions.  

  • CDOT and DNR will enter a formal Memorandum of Understanding to achieve the goals of this Executive Order.

Habitat loss poses a significant risk to Colorado’s wildlife populations, the governor's office said. 

With Colorado’s growing population and increased travel across the state, nearly 4,000 wildlife-vehicle crashes are reported each year, according to the release from the governor's office.

That’s an estimated $80 million in damages, not including the value of wildlife killed or the impact on the health of wildlife populations, the release states.

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