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Assembly-passed bill focuses on improving wildlife connectivity
The California Assembly passed the Room to Roam Act, a bill that would improve statewide connectivity for bobcats and other wildlife. Photo Courtesy Of NPS

The California Assembly passed the Room to Roam Act recently, bringing improved statewide wildlife connectivity closer to reality. Authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman, A.B. 1889 is a first-of-its-kind bill that would require local governments to consider and implement measures to protect wildlife connectivity as part of their general plan. The proposed legislation encourages better planned development with wildlife-friendly fencing, lighting and other ways to promote wildlife movement.

“We’re lucky to have protected landscapes in California but animals are suffering as their homes are sliced up by poorly planned development,” said J.P. Rose, Urban Wildlands policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If cities factor in the needs of our wild neighbors when making land-use decisions, it’ll make a world of difference for struggling animals unable to roam.”

Overdevelopment and careless development have fractured the habitat of California’s most imperiled species, including mountain lions, desert tortoises and California red-legged frogs, the state amphibian. With movement so constrained, animals are unable to find food, shelter or unrelated mates and can suffer from harmful inbreeding.

“The Room to Roam Act ensures that essential planning at the local level works to harmonize our landscapes with community and wildlife needs,” said Mari Galloway, California director at the Wildlands Network. “By considering wildlife needs at the outset, general plans align with conservation investments to promote biodiversity and climate-resilient landscapes.”

A.B. 1899, which is sponsored by the Center and Wildlands Network, lays out clear guidelines for cities to address wildlife connectivity in their long-range plans. The bill builds upon existing legislation that requires Caltrans to prioritize wildlife crossing structures when improving or building roads. The Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act, also sponsored by the Center and Wildlands Network, was signed into law in 2022.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. Since 1991, Wildlands Network has been reconnecting, restoring, and rewilding North America so that life in all of its diversity can thrive.