Renewed Hope for the Bog Turtle

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Renewed Hope for the Bog Turtle

How ARC is restoring the bog turtle’s habitat

Have you ever been lucky enough to meet a bog turtle? Measuring under four inches, the bog turtle is the smallest turtle in the United States. Holding one in the palm of your hand, you can almost feel the intricate balance between the bog turtle and the world around it; its livelihood is delicately tied to the bogs in which it lives. These bogs are drastically declining, establishing the bog turtle as a critically endangered species.

In the Southern Appalachian Mountains, bogs were historically maintained by beavers, grazing herbivores, and fire. These factors regulated woody encroachment that deteriorated the bog turtle’s habitat and maintained the bogs’ sensitive equilibrium between wet and dry land. Beginning with the arrival of European settlers, continued human activity over centuries resulted in the degradation of bogs, leaving the bog turtle with sparse habitat.

ARC is taking action to help restore the bog turtle’s habitat and its place in the ecosystem. With more bogs disappearing every year to development and other environmental changes, it is imperative to provide new or renewed habitat so bog turtles can reproduce.

In order to restore bogs to their historic health, we are cutting out excessive woody vegetation and restoring hydrology that has severely altered bogs. While adult bog turtles can sustain in degrading habitats, they require emergent vegetation to lay eggs and ensure that young bog turtles can flourish.

Bog turtle eggs (Photo courtesy of Mark Tegges)

America’s smallest turtle doesn’t have to be its rarest. By restoring its habitat, ARC is giving the bog turtle a hopeful future and you the opportunity to see this tiny turtle thrive.

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