The 16 acres of land that is the WILD Center encompasses part of a marsh and a wet shoreline. Turtles have been coming out of the marsh onto this land since time immemorial, searching for sunny nesting sites, in easy-to-dig soil. According to the ecological survey that was done before we started fundraising in earnest to purchase the WILD Center land, we have painted turtles and snapping turtles on the property. The nesting area will be located on the east edge of our upland area, overlooking the marsh and Little Lake Butte des Morts.
Painted and snapping turtles are frequently seen crossing the hazardous road in front of the WILD Center. The area where the turtles emerge from the water has suffered erosion related to the raising and lowering of the water levels in the lake. The land-use history of our upland area has resulted in compaction of the soil. There is no appropriate soil left on the WILD Center site in which the turtle eggs may be laid and then hatch. We find their nests in our loose compost and mulch piles, and along the edges of the hard-packed roadway and gardens. The nests that are laid are so shallow that we suspect the successful hatching rate is quite low. Marauding wildlife shares this area with us and with the turtles.
We are already planning citizen science activity for the newly created area, monitoring nesting activity and collecting data about our turtle population. And it’s possible we may attract the endangered Blandings turtle to our site.
Dick Nikolai, DNR Wildlife Specialist for this area of Wisconsin, has assisted us in developing the nesting site plan. It will be located an appropriate distance from the existing wetland, approximately 75 feet long x 35 feet wide x 3 feet deep, with no more than a 15 percent grade. Some soil will need to be removed onto the upland, to make room for a retained area of coarse sand – the ideal nesting medium – interplanted with appropriate native plants.
While several of our business partners have stepped forward promising materials and helping us to formulate plans, we expect the costly part to be engaging the excavating equipment and the transport of the sand.
Help the development of the Wild Ones Adopt a Turtle nesting site by sending a generous donation today.