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Local News

Rare turtle species to be surveyed at Will County forest preserves

Landowner near Rock Run preserves found Blanding's turtle in yard

JOLIET – Will County officials want to see just how many of a threatened turtle species reside in some of the county’s preserves.

The Forest Preserve District of Will County Board of Commissioners met Thursday and approved a contract between the district and the Illinois Natural History Survey for $29,793, allowing the INHS to conduct a survey of the Blanding’s turtle in the district’s Lower Rock Run system.

About a year ago, a landowner contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a Blanding’s turtle that had made its way likely from the Lower Rock Run area to nest in the landowner’s yard. The turtle was returned to the preserve. Some time later, a different, injured Blanding’s turtle appeared in the person’s yard, said Andrew Hawkins, the district’s director of planning and development.

The district wants to find out how many Blanding’s turtles, a state of Illinois threatened species, make their home in the Colvin Grove Preserve, Lower Rock Run Preserve and Rock Run Rookery.

“It’s unknown what the population is,” Hawkins said. “Some may assume they were picked up somewhere and released, or it could be a population in the Lower Rock Run area.”

The district typically conducts species surveys every five years to find out what is in its preserves.

This specific species has declined over the years for a few reasons, Hawkins said. Like many other species, there’s been a loss of habitat. Also, raccoons like to hunt the turtles’ eggs, and they aren’t fast enough to get away from motor vehicles.

The district believes the survey will help guide planning related to the habitat for the turtles.

On Thursday, the board also:

• Awarded a contract to Frank Burla & Sons Builders of Channahon for $148,463 to work on the DuPage River Trail extension project in the Shorewood area.

• Awarded a contract to Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. of Rosemont for $24,850 for engineering services related to the Black Road Bridge Trail.

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