Blanding’s Turtle habitat threatened in Kanata

A road project in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata may threaten a population of Blanding’s Turtles in the area, the Ottawa Citizen reports; herpetologists are using frankly apocalyptic language to describe the impact of the Terry Fox Drive extension on the local turtles. There’s a rush on to get the extension built before March 2011 to qualify for federal stimulus funding. On the other hand, the turtles, which are listed as a threatened species, should come under the protection of the provincial Endangered Species Act, under which destroying habitat is a distinct no-no.

Here’s a map of the Terry Fox Drive extension:

The area inside the road’s arc will be developed; outside the arc, the land will be left in its natural state.

Blanding's Turtle at Mud Lake Ottawa is a surprisingly good place for turtles, which are still found in awfully built-up areas of the city (see, for example, Michelle Tribe’s photo of a Blanding’s Turtle at Mud Lake, right). They also get quite a bit of positive press, thanks in no small part to a local turtle rescue that pioneered the use of turtle crossing signs. Hopefully, road mortality won’t wipe them out — which is precisely the worry about the Terry Fox Drive extension.

Update, Nov. 25 at 6:05 PM:

Yesterday’s Citizen suggests that the project is going to go ahead anyway, with much mitigation work promised.

The $47.7-million Terry Fox Drive extension should go ahead next spring, despite concerns raised over the threatened Blanding’s turtle, said Kanata North Councillor Marianne Wilkinson, whose ward includes the proposed project. …
“The road is already needed. The road is going to come anyways. Is waiting two years going to make a difference? I suspect not,” Wilkinson said. “If they do that, that will cost the city $46 million because we will not get the federal and provincial money. We lose the funding, we still get the road.”

So apparently it’s a fait accompli, even before construction begins — and this in a city that takes decades to build anything. (How come interprovincial bridges and light rail don’t work this quickly?)