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Turtles Benefit From Downeast Conservation Efforts

June 1, 2020

Why does turtle conservation matter?

There are 356 species of turtle distributed globally of which 111 call North America their home making us a powerhouse in terms of diversity. Over 60% of turtle species are considered endangered or threatened globally, which is alarming because they provide many ecosystem services like seed dispersal, which helps maintain a healthy ecosystem. This makes conserving even the most common of species an important endeavor. Some threatened species like Wood Turtles (Glyptemys insculpta), Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentia), and Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta picta), call the Northeast their home! If you are lucky you might even see one while visiting the Downeast Lakes Community Forest.

Turtles reside in wetland and riparian areas, which have specific set-back and harvesting restrictions in the DLLT Forest Management Plan. Riparian areas are marked by their proximity between water, early successional habitat, and mature timber. These three distinct habitats come together to form a transition area where turtles travel and seek shelter.  DLLT also helps to create turtle-accessible stream passages through our stream connectivity enhancement program. These culverts, across many dirt logging roads, create physical barriers in waterways causing aquatic wildlife to seek other routes up or down stream. By replacing the existing culverts with bottomless arch culverts, aquatic animal passage is improved allowing turtles to return to breeding grounds or seek out food. If you are interested in learning more about DLLT’s conservation practices or habitat stewardship please refer to the community forest tab on our website.  

 How Can I Help?

  • If you see a turtle crossing the road, help her along in the direction she’s already headed. Remember to pull completely out of the roadway, and put the flashers on your car to let other drivers know to go slow.
  • If a turtle lays her eggs in your yard, make a nest protector to protect baby turtles. Take some 2x4s to make a square frame. Stretch wire mesh over the frame. Place over the nest with some rocks securing the frame from predators.
  • Make donations to your local land trust to support habitat conservation and public educational programs.
  • If you own any meadows, mow them as late in the season as conditions allow. When mowing start in the center of the field, and mow in a circular pattern outward from the middle.
  • Become a turtle ambassador! Educate people around you about your favorite turtles and how they are helpful to the environment.