Volunteers support threatened turtle species with beach cleanup

Published: Oct. 16, 2021 at 8:22 PM EDT
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NORTH HERO, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermonters took to North Hero State Park Saturday to support one of the state’s most threatened species.

The spiny softshell turtle uses the shores of Lake Champlain for nesting sites. Volunteers cleared vegetation on the beaches in North Hero and Swanton to prepare for egg-laying next spring.

Toni Mikula of Vermont Fish and Wildlife says this effort not only maintains the habitat but also educates the public about its importance.

“Everybody here is learning about what this species needs to survive and thrive in Vermont,” Mikula said. “What they need is a beach like this, and it takes some human effort to keep it suitable for turtles.”

Jane Malago, a college student studying biology, was one of more than 20 volunteers in attendance.

“More work always needs to happen, helping to protect and encourage wildlife to keep going and moving,” Malago said. “This is definitely a small step, but all the small steps are what adds up to make the big steps happen. So, it’s great.”

Some of the hatchlings will be raised by the Echo Leahy Center for Lake Champlain while they are still vulnerable. Then they’ll be released back to the beaches next spring.

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