Aligning with our mission to bring together communities, companies, and conservationists to improve our lands and waters, the Alliance strives to protect habitats and ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. With the prevailing threat of climate change, deforestation, and development pressures, many ecosystems and animal species are rapidly losing their habitat and vegetation which they need for survival. The spotted turtle, found throughout the East Coast of the United States, is one of ten U.S. species most affected by habitat fragmentation. Habitat fragmentation, or when infrastructure development inhibits species from traveling from one habitat to another, has become a major problem for important species in the Chesapeake watershed.

Spotted turtles spend their lives traveling between various wetlands, and it is in these specific habitats where they feed, reproduce, and thermoregulate. In order for spotted turtles to thrive, it is essential that the water quality of these wetlands is clean and clear, and the bottom is covered by a soft substrate along with aquatic vegetation. Unfortunately, due to habitat fragmentation spotted turtle populations are facing a 50% reduction in size. 

Eastern painted turtles and spotted turtles bask in the morning sun at Historic Jamestowne, part of Colonial National Historical Park in James City County, Va., on April 30, 2018. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

A unique opportunity developed allowing the Alliance to manage a spotted turtle restoration project in Charles County, Maryland. The project aims to create a wetland habitat enhancement for various amphibians and reptiles, including spotted turtles. Through improvements in water quality and the installation of earthen berms, or a wall or shelf made of soil, the vernal pool wetlands created will allow spotted turtles to travel from one wetland to another. In Maryland, the Alliance is very excited to move forward with this project, and to continue to pursue projects that align with our mission to improve our lands and waters.