**** HRM Media Release
Please find information below in response to your inquiry.
On October 18, 2022, a resident came forward with concerns that a recent trail construction along Russel Lake was impacting nesting sites for painted turtles. Upon learning of these concerns, municipal Public Works staff took immediate action and directed that construction be halted pending a review of these concerns.
After halting construction to review these concerns, municipal and provincial biologists made visits to the site and confirmed there were no active nests within the construction area and that construction could proceed per original plan and no alternations to the trail were to be made.
Under Nova Scotia’s Wildlife Act, turtle nests are protected from disturbance or damage when active, and seasonal restrictions are observed to prevent such disturbance. If a nest is identified, construction crews are to halt work and seek direction from the province, which was done in this case. For more information on the Nova Scotia’s Wildlife Act, please contact the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables.
The conceptual design for this project was developed in cooperation with PEHRA Trails and Parks Committee, a local community group. The PEHRA Trails and Parks Committee was formed in 2001 to plan and construct a connected system of trails on public parklands in the Portland Estates and Hills area. Their priority since 2010 has been to upgrade the final section at the Baker Drive end, which with this project will now be complete.
Projects such as this trail construction work to achieve goals of the municipality’s Integrated Mobility Plan, by offering alternative, affordable, and sustainable transportation networks that connect communities and benefit our environment. This network is ever growing, and the public and experts are consulted regularly as part to help inform new, existing, and planned connections. For more information visit halifax.ca/integratedmobility.
Update from the NS Turtle Patrol on protecting a turtle nest at Russell Lake. We have reached out to the HRM for information but have not heard back yet (will update)
“A new wrinkle at the Russel Lake turtle nesting site. The city has sent an environmentalist to the site. They looked around didn’t see any turtles and decided the approve the original design. I sure hope the city will honor its promise to alter the trail at Russel Lake. The alteration will not only save the baby turtles at the site, it will save the tax payers a huge amount of money and prevent the location from being permanently destroyed when the nesting site is paved over.”
Looking out for the turtles
Construction is underway to provide a partial new path connecting the Russel Lake trails in Dartmouth. However, a recent clearing stirred up some problems for some local residents: mama Eastern painted turtles.
These turtles will nest in the same environment every season and are a species of concern in Nova Scotia. According to the Museum of Natural History,
Turtles face a variety of threats, including the loss of wetland habitats, road mortality, climate change, fishing by-catch, and pollution in aquatic habitats. Nests and hatchlings are predated by raccoons and skunks. The introduction of exotic and invasive animals into aquatic environments, along with the collection of turtles and hatchlings for the illegal pet trade also contribute to the decline of many turtle species.”
Local resident Bernie, who has documented years of turtle nesting in the area, rang the warning bells when pre construction began, putting the protected turtle nest right in the line of the machines. Bringing this to the NS Turtle Patrol `s attention, the rush was on to save the nesting site as machines began the clearing which had a direct hit on the nesting area. The new path extension would see a paved area running from Norman Newman and parallel gravel path and parking lot.
Earlier today, the NS Turtle Patrol met with a DNR member along with HRM Project Construction Inspectors along with Bernie to assess the situation and to check the debris for the possibility of finding signs of a destroyed nest (none found, hopefully already cleared). The inspection resulted in a plan to protect the nest and refill the area and to move the new path entrance towards the parking lot, joining the remaining work without disturbing the nest in the hopes to continue the breeding nest of the little dinosaurs who join painted turtles in and around Russell Lake and wetland nearby.