County re­news step to pro­tect bog tur­tles

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SUNDAY SELECT - By Kait­lyn Foti kfoti@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @kait­lyn­foti on Twit­ter

COURT­HOUSE >> What do you get when you cross con­struc­tion work with an en­dan­gered species? A con­tract for a Bog Tur­tle Spe­cial­ist, re­newed Thurs­day by the Mont­gomery County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers.

The con­tract em­ploys Lib­erty En­vi­ron­men­tal Inc. of Read­ing as the county’s Bog Tur­tle Spe­cial­ist, a con­tract that got a few chuck­les as it was read along with 15 other awards of con­tract at the board meet­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to county spokes­woman Lorie Slass, the con­tract en­ables Lib­erty En­vi­ron­men­tal to com­plete a sur­vey of ar­eas where the county is plan­ning con­struc­tion projects near rivers, wet­lands and flood plains. Each sur­vey costs $3,600 and is only paid if a sur­vey needs to be done.

The group de­ter­mines whether there are bog tur­tles dwelling in the area that will be im­pacted by con­struc­tion. The only other species that Slass said the county has re­cently had to pro­tect were Red­belly tur­tles.

If the tur­tles are found, the en­vi­ron­men­tal group helps de­ter­mine how the en­dan­gered species can be pro­tected as the county moves for­ward with con­struc­tion.

“For ex­am­ple, when we found the Red­belly for one of our projects, we were lim­ited in the months the con­struc­tion could take place be­cause we couldn’t work when they were ac­tive,” Slass said.

Bog tur­tles are con­sid­ered en­dan­gered by PA Fish and Boat Com­mis­sion and threat­ened at the fed­eral level, Slass said, and are pro­tected un­der the U.S. En­dan­gered Species Act.

Bog tur­tles are the small­est tur­tles found in Penn­syl­va­nia ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle by the PA Fish and Boat Com­mis­sion, which adds, “Even though it does not re­quire large ar­eas of habi­tat to sur­vive, its pop­u­la­tions have suf­fered from more prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with habi­tat loss than any other tur­tle in the Com­mon­wealth.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO — UNITED STATES DEPART­MENT OF AGRI­CUL­TURE

Bog tur­tles are the small­est and one of the rarest tur­tle species in North Amer­ica.

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