Caltrans Will Target $26 Million To Protect Environment

CT_logoEUREKA – Caltrans will direct $26 million in funding to make significant environmental improvements on more than 2,000 acres of lands it purchased for the Willits Bypass Project.

“Caltrans takes seriously its responsibility to preserve the species and habitats on these lands,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “We will protect these wetlands and fisheries in the Little Lake Valley while preserving grazing on much of these lands.”

To offset the project’s impacts to 80 acres of wetlands, Caltrans will provide compensatory wetlands mitigation in the Little Lake Valley at a 15:1 ratio. In addition to the more than 1,200 acres of wetland compensation, over 140 acres of riparian habitat will be established and rehabilitated, totaling over 10 miles of improved streamside habitat for salmon and steelhead. The mitigation wetlands will be planted with more than 800,000 plantings of local native wetland grasses, shrubs and trees to enhance the vegetative complexity of the mitigation sites. Culverts will be improved to open up critical upstream rearing habitat for listed steelhead and Coho salmon on Haehl, Upp, and Ryan Creeks. Conservation Easements will be placed on the lands to ensure they are protected in perpetuity.

The California Transportation Commission allocated the funding to Caltrans today.

Caltrans’ recent agreement with the California Farm Bureau Federation provides the University of California, Davis, and the University of California Cooperative Extension access to the properties for a long-term study of how natural resources can be preserved.

The Willits Bypass Project will relieve congestion, reduce delays, and improve safety for both traffic and pedestrians along U.S. Highway 101 through Willits in Mendocino County. This $210 million project, now under construction, is primarily funded ($136 million) by Proposition 1B, a 2006 voter-approved transportation bond. To date, nearly $15.5 billion in Proposition 1B funds have been put to work statewide.

For the latest information about the environmental improvements and the Willits Bypass Project, please visit