Crews consider turtles before next steps

An ornate box turtle. Photograph by Patrick Feller

An ornate box turtle. Photograph by Patrick Feller/Flickr

Last week, ahead of a March 31 deadline, clearing was completed for the first step of North Liberty’s utilities expansion to serve Liberty High School and the surrounding area.

Soon, crews will begin installing pipe from the waste water treatment plant. Part of the project goes through what environmental consultant Kevin Griggs calls “marginally suitable habitat” for ornate box turtles. We’re taking steps to mitigate the small potential for harm.

Our proposed action plan, developed by Griggs Environmental Strategies and subject to the approval of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, first calls for the instillation of silt fence, a tightly woven fabric used to prevent dirt from being washed into waterways, around the work zone. In addition to protecting Muddy Creek, this fence should prevent any turtles for entering the work area.

Starting later this month, once any turtles on the property would be more active — and most likely to be seen — environmental consultants will survey the site searching for any ornate box turtles inside the work zone. In the unlikely event they find one, they’ll document it and its location before relocating it to suitable habitat outside the work zone.

You can read Griggs Environmental Strategies’ assessment report and mitigation plan, and find other documents, reports and details, at