Wallis Annenberg, president of the Annenberg Foundation, is escorted by her son, Gregory Annenberg, on stage for Friday's celebration marking the start of construction of an $87 million wildlife bridge over Highway 101. Largely funded part by the foundation, the level crossing will bear his name.

Authorities Celebrate Grand Opening of Highway 101 Wildlife Crossing

On Friday, a crowd of hundreds celebrated the inauguration of what is billed as the world’s largest urban wildlife crossing, which will span a 10-lane highway in the Agoura Hills and could help save an isolated population of cougars from extinction.

Governor Gavin Newsom joined local, state and federal lawmakers, wildlife biologists and others to celebrate the start of construction on the $87 million Highway 101 crossing, a barrier dangerous to cougars, mule deer and other wildlife in Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

“We did it!” Beth Pratt, a longtime attorney, called the crowd.

Pratt, California director of the National Wildlife Federation, who led the fundraising efforts, spoke of a scene surrounded by grass-covered hills and the rush of highway traffic.

The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, as seen in this artist's rendering, is landscaped with native plants to resemble a natural habitat.  The bridge will span 210 feet over the 101 Freeway to provide mountain lions, coyotes, deer and other wildlife a safe path to the nearby Santa Monica Mountains.  It is expected to be completed in the fall of 2024.

“We are so honored to be here and celebrate with all of you who watched this impossible dream and like I said…we are not going to let this population of mountain lions go extinct on our watch,” a- she declared.

The planned bridge site near Liberty Canyon is one of the few remaining places in the region that has natural habitat on both sides of the 101. The land at this site is also publicly owned and protected from development.

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