Pennsylvania Home Builder Sells Land Easement to Feds to Protect Bog Turtle
February 17, 2015
When you hear about land developers and reptiles in the news, it is usually about the developer building on sensitive habitat of an endangered reptile. In the case of Pennsylvania home builder Berks Homes, the tiny bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) stopped one if its developments cold in its tracks. Rather than fight the federal government regarding a 300 foot buffer around a 102 acre damp and grassy field, Berks Homes is selling a permanent easement to the Natural Resournces Conservation Service that will prohibit farming, development, roads or pipelines on the property, which Berks Homes will retain ownership of.
ROSIE WALUNAS/U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
A recently hatched bog turtle.
“We’re satisfied with this decision. There’s absolutely no hard feelings,” Gary McEwen, Berks Homes’ director of land development told Lancaster Online.
“This is really good because it will allow the habitat to be enhanced. That may sound funny coming from a developer,” he said.
The initial plan was to build a village-type mixed use development on the property. But a new 50 foot buffer would have reduced the number of homes the developer could build on the site, which would make the project not profitable. The property will now be designated a bog turtle preserve thanks to the developer. It will be managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The bog turtle is the smallest turtle in North America and is also one of the rarest. It has been documented in just 10 states in the United States and is listed as a critically endangered species by the IUCN. Adult bog turtles weigh around 4 oz or less and measure around 4 inches in carapace length when fully grown.
John B. Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata