A planned wildlife crossing over the Ventura (101) Freeway in Liberty Canyon, an effort to provide a life-line to land-locked mountain lions and other animals in Southland mountains, will be named the “Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing,” organizers of the effort announced Friday.

The Annenberg Foundation has been a major financial contributor to the effort to build the freeway crossing, including a $25 million challenge grant. That grant was recently matched by the California Wildlife Conservation Board, bringing the project within about $6.5 million of its goal to begin construction.

The naming announcement was made by the National Wildlife Federation’s #SaveLACougars project during a news conference overlooking the Hollywood Bowl.

The wildlife crossing is expected to be the largest of its kind in the world, spanning 210 feet over 10 lanes of highway and pavement along with an access road, and is the first to be significantly funded through private donations along with public support, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

The wildlife crossing — which will include a landscape design blending the structure into the surrounding mountain habitat — will provide a connection between the small population of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains and the larger and genetically diverse populations to the north.

Researchers have estimated that the mountain lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains could become extinct within 50 years without an influx of genetic diversity. The lions are largely isolated due to freeways that act as barriers to movement across the region.

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