The turtles are crossing the road! Each year in early to mid-June, over 1,000 female Blanding’s turtles move from marshes and wetlands in southeast Minnesota across busy roadways to lay their eggs in traditional nesting areas.
Listed as a threatened species in Minnesota, Blanding’s turtles still occur in substantial numbers in Wabasha County near the town of Kellogg. A landscape area known as Weaver Dunes is home to possibly the largest concentration of Blanding’s turtles in the United States.
Highways and development have broken up and reduced habitat for Blanding’s turtles in Minnesota and other states. The Nature Conservancy and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are working together to protect Weaver Dunes and its Blanding’s turtle populations. The Nature Conservancy acquired the Weaver Dunes Preserve in 1980. Two years later, the Kellogg Weaver Dunes Scientific and Natural Area was established a half-mile north of the preserve by the DNR.
Today, more than 5,000 Blanding’s turtles are believed to inhabit the Weaver Dunes region’s wetlands.
To protect the female turtles as they cross Wabasha County Road in early June in order to lay their eggs in and their hatchlings as they return to the wetlands in late August, the Conservancy and the DNR have posted “Rare Turtle Crossing” signs in an effort to keep motorists from inadvertently killing them. To celebrate the contributions of volunteers who've helped keep Weaver Dunes in a high-quality natural condition and to provide an update on its Weaver Dunes preserve, including new efforts to control invasive species such as buckthorn and cow vetch, the Conservancy is holding an open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 9.
Walking tours will focus on native plants and wildlife, including amphibians, reptiles, birds and wildflowers. Michael Pappas, a Blanding’s turtle researcher, will also give a presentation on Blanding’s turtles. The Southeast Minnesota Food Network will grill local bison burgers, brats and hotdogs. Please bring a food item to share for lunch.
For more information on the Weaver Dunes open house, please contact Rich Biske at (507) 765-2450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.