Once slated for a housing development, a field in Lancaster County will soon become a protected turtle preserve. That’s because a rare turtle has made the field home.
The Bog Turtle is the smallest in North America. You may have never seen them but some of them call Lancaster County home. The Bog Turtle spends most of its time buried in mud and during the winter months, in hibernation.
"They've been here. They found a place and the environment is suited for them here," said Mark Hiester, East Cocalico Township Manager.
The big open field on the border of Adamstown and East Cocalico Township was supposed to be a housing development but instead it will soon be a preserve for the special turtle.
"Maybe 30 acres before would have been for turtles, and 70 would have been for houses. Now 105 acres is for turtles," said Hiester.
The Developer reached a financial deal with the federal government to turn the land into permanent conservation.
Meaning they are now protected, on this section of land, by the Federal Government. "They are rare and they are threatened I think is the key,' said Hiester.
Signs have been posted to keep people off the lands because the turtles are sensitive to humans. "We build development roads and the like, and our noise, our runoff, those kind of things can be damaging to the turtles and it's habitat," said Hiester.
"We saw one crossing the street. I guess on it's way back over to here and we picked it up and brought it over," said Kim Gumpher who lives in the neighborhood next to the site. "I think it's kind of neat having little kids when they get older we can say, oh yeah there's a reserve over there, and we do see them every once in a while," said Gumpher.