/Turtle project gains global traction

Turtle project gains global traction

By Vanessa Balintec
Haliburton Highlands Land Trust’s turtle road mortality mitigation
project is receiving attention from academics around the world, the
organization reported at their annual general meeting on June 1 at the
Minden Hills Cultural Centre.
three-year study, conducted from 2015 to 2017, into how to better
protect turtles at roadways resulted in a barrier wall designed by
Minden’s Paul Heaven, senior wildlife biologist, that allowed turtles to
use a culvert or channel as an underpass. 
to the land trust, his work significantly reduced the number of turtles
killed while nesting and crossing roads to each wetland. 
past April, Montana State University requested permission to use
monitoring protocols based out of the study. The entire turtle project
has been published in scientific journal Copeia. 
to the report, Heaven was recently contacted by an ecologist working
with the U.S. Department of Interior’s International Technical
Assistance Program to use the project as a case study for a closer look
in fast infrastructure development that harms species and habitats
occurring in countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and
Burma. The workshop will be in Thailand where government officials from
these countries will be in attendance. 
addition, attendees at the AGM heard that the land trust’s two-year
Bats at Risk Assessment Project was completed. By using community
outreach programs such as radio and workshops and using social media,
the land trust was able to bring further interest and awareness to the
to the report, with Heaven’s support, they were able to confirm the
presence of all eight Ontario bat species in Haliburton County, four of
which are listed as endangered.
Although the organization has
received good news regarding their projects, receiving grant money in
the year to come may prove difficult.  
the significant reduction in grants at both the provincial and federal
levels, the foundation said they will be “increasingly dependent” on
membership and individual donations to ensure stewardship funds remain
at a healthy level. 
2018 and to present, we’ve probably applied for nine or 10 grants,”
said chair Mary-Lou Gerstl. “Five have been denied outright. It is very,
very, unusual compared to past years. We’re still waiting for word on
four. We’re going to have to work hard to raise funds.” 
the organization remains confident they will “weather the storm.” The
Haliburton Highlands Land Trust’s financial auditor Tyson Shennett
agreed, saying the council and their addition of treasurer David Bathe
have developed effective policies over the years that help keep the
organization in good standing. 
Wickware, vice chair, said the land trust has completed three main
projects with Trent University and U-Links: surveying and monitoring
tools for the organization, best management practices and guidelines for
protecting wetlands, and snake species at risk and habitat management
in Dahl Forest and Barnum Creek Nature Reserve.
Wickware said next
steps include how to implement findings and looking into how to
rehabilitate forests to maintain diversity of habitats. 
next steps, Wickware announced a new program in collaboration with
other northern and central land trusts that will enable them to work
“As our land states become increasingly populated as
populations move north, it becomes harder and harder for organizations
to acquire and work in a coordinated matter,” said Wickware. “By
starting this program now and starting to meet and talk to landowners
about the issues that we’re facing, we hope to be able to continue to
connect with all the other land trusts around.”

potential permanent committee made up of all the different land trusts
may be established in the future to help connect other land trusts and
help in conservation efforts.
Wickware said the organization was
excited to announce that their partnership with Trent University and
U-Links has resulted in collaboration with graduate student Robert
Monico and his supervisor Dr. Tom Whillans. Monico’s thesis focuses on
integrating methods of auditing and land stewardship and developing a
new method for assessing the restoration potential of such properties,
and will help out with habitat investigation and rehabilitation.