Lake Champlain's spiny softshell turtles are currently listed as a threatened  species in Vermont. As a riverine turtle that has adapted to a lake environment,  many scientists consider the population as particularly unique.

One segment of the population overwinters in a hibernaculum located near the existing Swanton-Alburg causeway (several other hibernacula have also been located). From early May to early October, softshells bask on the causeway and its detritus in order to strengthen their energy reserves for nesting activities and to prepare for the extended torpor demanded by winter in Vermont.

The construction project's Threatened and Endangered Species permit required a mitigation plan for several species, including the spiny softshell. Turtles are monitored through both electronic tracking and onsite observation throughout their active months (radio tracking is also conducted during the  winter). Man-made platforms are scattered about the mitigation site to offer alternative basking habitat for the turtles while construction is  underway. The pictures and slideshows represent a small part of the observation  effort.

In addition to turtle portraits, I have assembled images from construction activity. All captions (whether of turtles or bridge work) reflect only the opinion of the  photographer based on hundreds of hours of observation and over 2000  photographs. Scientists and policy makers involved in this project no doubt have  their own valid opinions.

Ron Haskell

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Page last updated 9/18/2005