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Bog Turtles


Two weeks ago we took a look at the environmental review process of the PNDI. This week, we will look at what is one of the most common potential impacts found. In some projects, it can cause mitigation measures, while others need a full submission. US Fish and Wildlife has jurisdiction over these reviews. Most submissions need site inspections, a Phase I, and even a Phase II Bog Turtle survey. Ultimately, an on-site habitat can even alter a design.   


What is a Bog Turtle?

Reaching threatened and/or endangered status in 1997, bog turtles are the rarest turtle in North America. The Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program has a fantastic fact sheet on bog turtles, It is the smallest turtle, measuring between 3 and 4.5 inches, to inhabit Pennsylvania. Their habitats are only located in fourteen southeastern counties. Recognized by the large orange blotches on the sides of the head, their bodies and shells are dark brown.


One of the predominant reasons for threatened and endangered status is their very specific habitat requirements. The animal typically lives in wet meadows where tussock sedge and grasses exist. The species need open conditions and prefer groundwater seeps over open water. Other reasons for the decline in population are poor water quality and predation by raccoons. 


Recovery Plan?

In 2001, the Wildlife Conservation Society, in conjunction with US Fish and Wildlife, published a recovery plan for the northern population. The plan is available at It established four criteria for success:

  • Long-range protection for at least 185 populations
  • Five-year interval monitoring for 25-years to show stable or increasing populations
  • Elimination of collection and trade as a threat
  • Monitor and manage threats, including succession, invasive plants, hydrology, and predation.

Based on the plan, nine action steps were identified. The action steps came to an estimated cost of $1,863,000. Additionally, the plan estimates the bog turtle delisting would initiate in 2050 if criteria are met.

In our region (Delaware), the recovery unit was noted as the most diverse. It indicated that the biggest hurdle was urban sprawl. This is why land use planning now includes bog turtle studies when identified by a PNDI.


Who is ACA?

Started in 1992 and located in Chester County, PA ACA has grown to become a full-service engineering firm. Today, we merge professional services with practical knowledge for residential and commercial projects. No matter the scale, from installing a fence, to building a structure or developing land, you need permits. Because the approval process includes many permits and agencies, it can be a headache. Working with ACA’s full-service team saves you time, money, and headaches.  Every step of the way, we are here to support you and educate you about the process. Here are some of the basic services we provide:

Construction Management | Civil Engineering | Environmental Permitting | Septic System Testing and Design | Land Surveying | Wetland Delineations and Mitigation


Please feel free to browse our website or if working on a project or need help, contact us at (610) 469-3830.