The bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii), America’s smallest turtle, is federally listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Bog turtles depend upon a habitat mosaic of open, sunny, spring fed wetlands and scattered dry areas. Bog turtles can be an indicator of water quality and wetland function; the wetland habitats that they require provide important ecosystem services, including purifying water, recharging underground aquifers and absorbing floodwaters. The wetlands also support many rare plants and animals.
The greatest threats to bog turtles include habitat degradation and fragmentation from land conversion, habitat succession due to invasive exotic and native plants, and illegal trade and collecting. Changes in land use or alterations in water flow reduce a wetland’s ability to function. Wetland habitats have been drained and filled for development, agriculture, road construction and impoundments have severely fragmented the remaining habitat and have created physical barriers, isolating existing bog turtle populations.
Private landowners control the majority of bog turtle habitat remaining in the northeast. Many of the wetlands are located in agricultural areas that are subject to frequent livestock grazing. Proper grazing management conserves habitat by slowing natural plant succession and minimizing the encroachment of invasive native and exotic plant species. However, heavy grazing may destroy bog turtle habitat that is necessary for turtle nesting, basking, foraging and cover.
NRCS has worked with the USFWS to initiate a range-wide Biological Opinion for bog turtle habitat restoration activities. Working Lands for Wildlife will provide financial and technical support to increase conservation efforts.
Goals and Objectives
Through Working Lands for Wildlife, NRCS will assist private landowners combat habitat fragmentation and degradation to restore bog turtle populations in seven states, and increase landowner confidence that the conservation practices they volunteer to implement will not harm the species or its habitat. Restoration activities will complement the existing NRCS Wetland Reserve Program effort to protect bog turtle habitat.
643 Restoration and Management of Rare and Declining Habitats
644 Wetland Wildlife Habitat Management
645 Upland Wildlife Habitat Management
Protect, maintain, and restore bog turtle habitat.
Increase connectivity of existing bog turtle habitat.
Improve weed and invasive species management.
Support sustainable grazing management that supports native plant communities.
Promote use of government programs that provide incentives for development or restoration of habitat on private lands.
Outcomes and Impacts
Landowners will enhance, restore and protect habitat for bog turtle, aiding in the implementation of its recovery plan and increase landowner confidence that the conservation practices they implement will not harm the species or its habitat.
US Fish and Wildlife page | Proposed Focal Area Map (PDF, 1.6MB)