The annual spiny softshell turtle beach cleanup day is on Saturday, October 21, and Vermont Fish & Wildlife is looking for volunteers to help. Participants are asked to arrive at North Hero State Park between 10 and 11 a.m.
Volunteers will pull up vegetation on nesting beaches to prepare turtle nesting sites for next year. They may also find a few hatchlings that occasionally remain in nests underground this late in the year. In addition to threatened spiny softshell turtles, these nest sites are also used by map turtles, painted turtles, and snapping turtles.
Vermont Fish & Wildlife biologist Steve Parren will have hatchling spiny softshell turtles on hand and will talk about his long-term recovery efforts with the species. Some hatchling turtles will be raised in captivity by the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center while they are small and most vulnerable to predation. They will be released back into Lake Champlain next spring.
“This is a great way to help conserve a threatened species right here in Vermont,” said Parren. “It’s also a fun way to learn more about the turtles and to see some recently hatched baby turtles.”
Participants are asked to dress in layers of warm clothes and to bring work gloves, a leaf rake, short-handled tools such as trowels, and their own lunch. Families and kids are welcome. The cleanup may run until 4 p.m., although participants can choose how long to assist.
“Last year we had nearly 50 participants, so we’re anticipating a strong turnout again this year,” said Parren.
To get to North Hero State Park, follow Route 2 north past Carry Bay in North Hero. Take a right on Lakeview Drive, just before Route 2 swings west toward Alburg. Follow Lakeview almost to the end until you reach the North Hero State Park entrance sign on the left. Drive to the end of the road always bearing right.