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Our Culture Includes Turtles

Updated: Jan 9

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I was up early the other morning to drive my husband to a meeting.  Driving along 121 we passed Paul Heaven, standing on the road by Wee Care, wearing a brightly coloured vest and looking very focused and happy.  He was waving as people passed by.  Later that same day I was driving along County Rd 1, by Wintergreen, and passed a similar looking person walking along the road and watching.  In both cases it was raining lightly, and in both cases my heart grew 10 times bigger.  These two people are part of a larger project that has been taken on by the Haliburton Land Trust.   The Land Trust is monitoring where turtles are crossing the road in the county, so that in the end  more  turtles’  lives will be saved.  Over 60 volunteers attended a training session with the Land Trust to learn about the project and to be trained on how to be a turtle monitor.  It involves donating time to stand and record the types of turtles crossing the road (and of course helping them if a car is coming).  There are 6 types of turtles in Haliburton County, and 3 of them are classified as “species at risk” – at  risk from being hit and at risk from their habitat being divided, or ‘fragmented’, by our roads. Guided by data from the  monitors, the Land Trust will create and implement a plan to keep turtles at risk areas off our roads.  This is the first project of its kind. Once developed, this plan has the potential to be used across the province and beyond.  My heart grew 10 times because one of the reasons I chose to come and live in Haliburton County almost 30 years ago was the environment…the lakes, the trees, the birds, the turtles and all of the wildlife that is up here.  It has always been so important to my husband and I that we live close to nature, and that we raise our daughter with a great reverence for all of life.  For the past year I have sitting on the  Municipal Cultural Resources Committee Meeting for Dysart et al.  “A  vibrant community is a place where people want to live”.  Our local municipality (and other municipalities)  are constantly considering and investing in ways to encourage people to want to move, live and stay here.  We are constantly asking  what does our municipality have, what makes it rich and interesting (what is our culture) and then what are the ways that we protect it, promote it, support it and continue to expand it.  We make recommendations to council and we are working hard to build better communication between all the cultural supporters .  I am so inspired by the amount of care and attention that people from all walks of lives are giving to our local turtles.  They are an important part of our culture.  We can never take them for granted.    60 people have signed up to be turtle monitors…and 60 more are needed. If you want to help us save turtles that are in danger of extinction, please contact the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, or by phoning the office at (705) 457-3700.

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