By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A fundraising campaign created to raise funds for a wildlife crossing over the 101 Freeway in Agoura Hills has reached the $18 million mark, putting the groundbreaking within sight, organizers announced Wednesday.

The total raised by the National Wildlife Federation’s #SaveLACougars campaign includes a recent $1.4 million gift from a private donor.

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The wildlife crossing will allow animals to safely cross the 101 Freeway, improving genetic diversity. (CBSLA)

“The incredible support of people from around the world has allowed us to advance this project from a visionary idea to an impending reality. This past fall, we released new design visualizations, Caltrans will have the blueprints for the crossing completed this summer, and if fundraising remains strong, we will break ground in November,” said Beth Pratt, California regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation and leader of the campaign.

The crossing at Liberty Canyon is expected to be the largest of its kind in the world.

The crossing is being built to give wildlife a way to traverse the 101 Freeway and avoid being struck by any of the hundreds of thousands of vehicles that pass through the area daily.

Several mountain lions over the years have been struck and killed while trying to cross the region’s freeways.

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The project is being funded largely from private donations. The $1.4 million gift came from an anonymous donor from La Canada Flintridge, who has given $2 million to the project to date.

Pratt praised the generosity of the anonymous woman and all the donors.

“As someone who has spent a lifetime protecting wildlife, I am inspired by people like this anonymous donor who answer the call,” she said. “Her donation — the largest from a private donor to date for the project — advances the crossing significantly. Her incredible legacy — and the legacy of all who donate — will be preventing the extinction of these magnificent mountain lions.”

Officials with the campaign say that in addition to saving the mountain lions from likely extinction, the crossing will also reconnect a long- fragmented ecosystem for all wildlife in an area recognized as part of one of only 36 biodiversity hotspots worldwide.

Construction for the crossing will also generate jobs in the region and economic benefits into the future.

For more information about the #SaveLACougars campaign or to donate, visit savelacougars.org.

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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)