Winnebago County Forest Preserve District conducts inventory of rare turtles

Staff Report

The Winnebago County Forest Preserve District (WCFPD) will begin working with biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct surveys for ornate box turtles in forest preserves on the Sugar River during May 2012.

The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission has granted special-use permits for conducting research on this state-threatened turtle in several sites throughout northern Illinois.

The Winnebago County forest preserves are among a handful of locations where ornate box turtles have been documented in recent years. These forest preserves contain unique habitat that is particularly suited to this threatened species.

Ornate box turtles rely on prairie ecosystems, and their numbers have declined drastically in recent decades as Illinois grasslands have been destroyed.

The prime habitat conditions in these preserves are the result of ecological restoration and management implemented by the forest preserve district.

The goal of WCFPD’s ecological restoration program is to revitalize former agricultural land by restoring ecological processes necessary to make land and water ecosystems sustainable, resilient, and healthy under current and future conditions so that it supports the greatest possible biodiversity.

Posted May 9-15, 2012, issue

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