EWRG July Meeting Announcement – Turtle Conservation Best Management Practices

DATE:    Wednesday, July 29, 2015
PLACE:  Hawthorne Lucky Lab Brew Pub, 915 SE Hawthorne Blvd
TIME:     11:30 a.m. Networking, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Presentation
SPEAKER:  Susan Barnes, Regional Conservation Biologist
TOPIC:  Turtle Conservation Best Management Practices

Oregon’s two native turtle species, the western painted turtle and western pond turtle, have experienced significant population declines and continue to be highly vulnerable to habitat loss and other anthropogenic impacts. They are classified as “Critical” on Oregon’s Sensitive Species List, are “Protected Nongame Wildlife”, and are priority species in the Oregon Conservation Strategy. Actions that involve ground disturbance, in-water work, changes in water level and hydroperiod, planting of vegetation, and use of heavy equipment are only a few types of activities known to affect turtles. Albeit unintentional, these activities can actually make habitat less suitable for turtles and even result in direct injury and mortality to turtles present at a project site. There has been a growing demand for known techniques for successfully avoiding and minimizing harmful effects to turtles at project sites and during project implementation. And with increasing awareness of the plight of Oregon’s turtles, there has been a growing desire to incorporate turtle habitat elements into project designs, including those focused on floodplain restoration. To address these issues and needs, ODFW in partnership with the Oregon Native Turtle Working Group recently produced “Guidance for Conserving Oregon’s Native Turtles Including Best Management Practices”. The document is a compilation of peer-reviewed, recommended best methods for creating suitable turtle habitat and for avoiding and minimizing harmful impacts to turtles and their habitats during project implementation, whether it is culvert replacement, trail construction, dredging, or riparian restoration. The Turtle BMPs helps project planners and natural resource managers know how to 1) determine if turtles are present on a project site, 2) create and enhance habitat specifically for turtles, and 3) plan, design and implement specific types of projects with turtles in mind. The BMPs also includes useful information on turtle ecology, when to best conduct certain project actions, and tips for responding to certain turtle related scenarios (e.g., what to do if you find a turtle in the middle of the road). Regardless of the project type or situation, each can be made to be less harmful to turtles by considering the information in the Turtle BMPs document. By implementing these deliberate measures, together we can help protect and conserve Oregon’s native turtles.

Turtle conservation

Susan is a wildlife biologist with a B.S. from the University of New Hampshire in Wildlife Management with an emphasis in Forestry.  She has been with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) since 1998.  Prior to joining ODFW, Susan worked for the New Hampshire Audubon Society, a private ecological research institute, the U.S. Forest Service, and for private environmental consulting firms. She currently serves as the Conservation Biologist for the west side of the state. Her focus is conservation of nongame wildlife species and their habitats, and implementation of the Oregon Conservation Strategy.  Susan’s areas of expertise include habitat assessment and restoration techniques, impact analysis and mitigation planning, wildlife policy, and invasive wildlife.  She never bores of the sometimes bizarre wildlife related questions she gets from the public!