Wetland Improvements Benefit Turtles

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A wetland in the Oak Openings corridor is being improved to enhance its function as habitat for wildlife, particularly turtles.

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"We are becoming more sophisticated in the types of restoration that we accomplish," said Tim Schetter, director of natural resources. "This will have real positive impacts on two turtle species of conservation concern."

Metroparks is working with Toledo Zoo conservation biologist Matt Cross on the design to incorporate wetland features that provide habitat structure for turtle nesting and hibernation, added LaRae Sprow, a supervisor in the Natural Resources Dept.

The wetland is on property initially protected by the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserve and later acquired by Metroparks. It lies along the Moseley Trail between Secor and Wiregrass Lake Metroparks, part of a corridor that stretches to Oak Openings Preserve and provides critical habitat for wildlife as well as access for people.

"The Zoo has been trapping turtles from this site for three years, so they have good baseline data," LaRae said. "They will continue trapping at this site so that we can better understand the habitat needs of the turtles. They are primarily focusing on spotted turtles and Blandings turtles, which are both state listed species."

To restore the wetland, some trees were removed to expose potential nesting sites to more sunlight, and areas were sculpted to hold water year round. The improvements reduce the need for resident turtles to move from the site in search of a permanent body of water and appropriate nesting substrate.

"Reducing the need for the turtles to move reduces the likelihood of road related mortality," LaRae said. "We also moved trees and rootballs into the  wetland to improve basking sites and areas where young turtles can hide."

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Photos

Top, Blanding's turtle

Above: Young spotted turtle

Below: In the process of creating a better wetland

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