County renews step to protect bog turtles
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.”
Bog turtles are the smallest and one of the rarest turtle species in North America.