~Submitted by Patty Dahlgren
You may know me as the gal to call for Opossum rescue, or Hanscom Field projects. Now I ask for your help to save rare, threatened Blanding’s Turtles. Please vote NO to paving the Reformatory Branch Trail (RBT).
Local Expert Dr. Bryan Windmiller educated Bedford residents recently (watch at savereformatorytrail.org on his work of almost 2 decades monitoring and “headstarting” Blanding’s. I value his expertise on the impact of turning the RBT into the Minuteman Bikeway Extension. It’s not good news for these rare turtles.
Blanding’s have territory in Great Meadows and the surrounding area, including West Bedford. There are only about 24 nesting females, many are elderly. Most turtles cross the RBT to lay eggs and then cross back into the Refuge. Later their babies, who are black and about the size of a half-dollar, must also cross the RBT. It’s the babies who especially would face direct mortality and injury in bicycle collisions. “If I’m riding along at an even a modest clip of 10-12 miles per hour, and I look pretty carefully, I would have a pretty poor likelihood of seeing a small, black spec,” said Dr. Windmiller.
Dr. Windmiller explained that Blanding’s face 3 threats if Bedford’s RBT is widened and paved. “The RBT in Bedford does not end at a brick wall,” he said. More and faster traffic would head into Blanding’s territory.
All Blanding’s would face an increased risk of poaching as unfortunately there’s a global market for them. Additionally, increased traffic makes it more likely they would have increased energy expenditure and risk of overland movements to avoid crossing the RBT. This would cause them to spend more time on land where they’re more vulnerable. Babies are tiny and “faced with a large, scary stimulus,” Dr. Windmiller said, “they’re likely to just hunker down and stay put.”
Vote NO on Article 10 at the Town Meeting on November 14 to Save the Blanding’s Turtles and their babies from being smushed, poached, or eradicated. Save our Blanding’s!