Bike trail construction could affect rare turtle population

The proposed Janesville to Beloit Bike/Pedestrian Trail may result in the “incidental taking” of a rare turtle under a permit the Department of Natural Resources proposes to issue for the project. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.
 
The proposed project connects and builds off of the recently completed Big Hill Park (City of Beloit) Janesville to Beloit Trail. This project will develop a 3-mile public multi-use path connecting Big Hill Park on the northern edge of the City of Beloit and the downtown district of Afton. It will provide users of the existing on-road route with a safer alternative and will improve the connection between Beloit, Afton, and Janesville. This trail section is vital to the continued establishment of a completely off-road bike/pedestrian route between the two cities and will improve regional connectivity in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
 
The presence of the state endangered ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornata) has been confirmed in the vicinity of the project site. DNR staff determined that the proposed project may result in the incidental taking of some turtles.
 
The Department has concluded that the proposed project is not likely to appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival or recovery of the species within the state, the whole plant-animal community of which it is a part or the habitat that is critical to its existence.
 
The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the endangered species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Permit. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the ornate box turtle are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Rori Paloski (608-264-6040 or rori.paloski@wi.gov). The department is requesting comments from the public through September 21, 2017. Public comments should be sent to Rori Paloski, WDNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921or rori.paloski@wi.gov.