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Wildlife Protection

Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

On Track with "Turtle Tracks"

When new tracks are restored next year on the Greenbush Line Commuter Railroad in Hingham, Cohasset, and Scituate, Massachusetts, the area's spotted turtles will be able to move from one wetland habitat to another through specially-designed crossings under the railroad tracks. The original rail line was abandoned in the 1960s, enabling turtles to freely cross over the former rail bed. Reconstructing the tracks threatened to block any movements between critical habitats. The new, easy-to-install crossing structures will be made out of three extended and stabilized, side-by-side railroad ties, between which the ballast will have been removed to a depth of 9 inches (the base of the ties). Adjacent 5/8"-mesh barrier fencing will funnel turtles to the structures, and concrete guide walls will keep the ballast from overflowing onto the turtles' path. To make sure the turtle crossings would work, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority launched a demonstration project in 2003. Through remote cameras and radio telemetry, biologists documented spotted turtles crossed the right of way through the prototypes at the same rate and frequency as they had before the project began. As many as 17 other wildlife species--for example, mink, snapping turtles, American toads, and mallard ducks--also used the prototypes. The result? Some 39 wildlife-crossing structures based on the tested prototypes have been proposed for key locations along the 17-mile Greenbush Line.
--Aug 21, 2006

Lars H Carlson, (617) 994-4354 or

photo of a seated man holding a spotted turtle
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authori photo
A spotted turtle being fitted with a radio transmitter.

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Along Roads - Massachusetts
Updated: 12/12/2012
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