Road construction is a sign of progress. And in the case of Bass Lake Road in Maple Grove, progress takes the shape of safer intersections and more lanes.
At the moment, some of those new lanes are blocked, but any hassle for motorists is nothing compared to what the Blanding's turtle has to face.
"They're often on the move," said Madeleine Linck, a natural resources technician for the Three Rivers Park District. "They're a water turtle that spends quite a bit of time on the land, and if you're in the metro area, it doesn't take much time to run into a road."
Linck says Blanding's turtles live at Elm Creek Park Reserve, but face an uphill climb.
"Turtles, but also many types of amphibians like salamanders, cannot mount the typical urban curb that is kind of a straight up and down curb," she said.
A large turtle could get over a curb, but many of the smaller turtles cannot.
"And therefore they get trapped on the roads," Linck added. "And that, of course, is not a good situation because when they meet a car, it doesn't usually do well for the turtle."
That's a fact not lost on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which is why Maple Grove engineers have installed what they call "turtle curbs." Engineers say they've installed about 1,500 feet of turtle curbs near wetland areas along Bass Lake Road between Vicksburg Lane and County Road 101.
The curb was designed with a slight slope to it, so it's supposed to let turtles get up and over and cross the street safely. However, the "turtle curbs" certainly don't guarantee their survival, but Linck is at least pleased with the effort.
"Turtles are part of our fauna and our natural heritage, and losing turtles would not be what we want," she said. "I mean, we want to share this world with all forms of wildlife."
Sept. 19, 2012