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Conservation Corner

Totally Turtles

Fri, August 04, 2017

NRCS has gone turtle. You heard that right, we’re rolling up our sleeves and getting to work on restoring and managing habitat for the Blanding’s turtle in IL, IN, OH, and MI. The Blanding’s turtle is a large, long-lived turtle featuring a bold yellow throat and a high-domed, dark shell flecked with yellow spots.  The species is currently endangered in Illinois and has been petitioned for a 2023 listing under the Endangered Species Act, unless significant improvements in the turtle’s population can be demonstrated beforehand.

In an effort to proactively boost this turtles populations, NRCS will roll out the 2018 Working Lands for Wildlife Blanding’s Turtle Initiative this fall.  It is our goal that voluntary conservation on working lands, implemented by private landowners, will set this turtle on a secure path to recovery.

The Blanding’s turtle requires large, well-connected wetland complexes consisting of sedge meadows, buttonbush swamps, open bottomland forest, and herbaceous wetlands of varying hydrology.  Also of great importance to the Blanding’s turtle are tree- and shrub-free, sandy, upland nesting areas that lay adjacent to wetland habitats. It is crucial that habitat can be accessed by the turtles without the need to cross roads or risk traffic fatalities. 

Wetland Restoration, Forest Stand Improvement, Brush Management, Herbaceous Weed Treatment, and Structures for Wildlife are just a handful of the NRCS conservation practices that may help bring this turtle back from the brink. 

Spread the word, this fall NRCS will roll out an initiative to help the Blanding’s turtle flourish.  Inquire at your local NRCS Field office for more information.

Adapted from an article by Illinois NRCS State Biologist Jennifer Anderson