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black bear crossing the road in the Smokies

Smoky Mountain Outdoors Announces New Partnership with the Safe Passage Project

June 20, 2022

For those who don’t know, wildlife found in the Smokies are born with the instinct to follow the same geographical path as the relatives who have come before them. They do so in search of many different things, including food, mates, and territory. The problem is that humans have made natural migration more difficult by dividing their pathways with roads and infrastructure. In an effort to bring awareness to this issue, we have recently partnered with the Safe Passage project:

About the Project

The Safe Passage project is designed to raise money and awareness to the rising number of automobile collisions with large mammals along I-40 near the Pigeon River Gorge. The ultimate goal is to help build a way to get animals safely across this dangerous section of roadway. Within the last two decades, we have seen a substantial increase in volume traffic along mountainous roads, which has unfortunately contributed to wildlife mortality. When any type of animal stops trying to cross a road due to fear, the highway can become a barrier. Once the animals realize it is not safe, they will be forced to turn away from their natural pathways. This is why it is important to find a way to help all animals cross the road safely.

Possible Solutions

elk crossing There are several possible solutions that can make it safer for wildlife to safely cross the road. One possibility is the construction of wildlife overpasses, which are becoming popular in the western United States. These walkways have been proven to reduce vehicle collisions. Some other ways to improve the path for animals include culverts, open span bridges, and bridge extensions. The way to learn about the best solution to protect both drivers and wildlife is by conducting research, which is what the Safe Passage project is trying to accomplish.

The Big Picture

Increasing the options for safe wildlife crossing across I-40 will be a giant step toward improving animal population health. Everyone enjoys seeing wildlife across the Smoky Mountains, and this is our way of helping them continue to thrive in their natural habitat. While there are roads all across the Smokies that would benefit from this type of passageway system, the goal is for this project to lay the groundwork for other areas in the mountains.

How You Can Help

guide with Smoky Mountain OutdoorsThe biggest way for everyone to help with the initiatives of the project is by bringing awareness to the issue. When you book your next rafting trip, you can click the link in your confirmation email to donate to the cause. You can also give money when you visit Smoky Mountain Outdoors to raft down the Pigeon River. With your help, we can raise awareness and funds so you can have better chances to see wildlife while on your Smoky Mountain rafting adventure! For more information, be sure to visit the Safe Passage website.

Do you want to enjoy time with us on the river while supporting Smoky Mountain wildlife? Browse our rafting trips and make a donation to the Safe Passage project when you book!