Rescuing Michigan Turtles: A Tale of Conservation Amidst Modernization
The modernization of a natural gas transmission line, in Michigan, spurred the rescue of turtle eggs that were in its pathline. Around 55 miles of a natural gas transmission line, in Washtenaw, Livingston, Ingham, Shiawassee, and Clinton Counties needed replacement due to its age.
The first phase of the $550 million Mid-Michigan Pipeline Project began in Chelsea, Michigan. The 20-inch pipeline dates back to the 1940s and is being replaced with a new 36-inch pipeline that will speed the delivery of gas more quickly, safely, and efficiently. There was a problem, however. Research of the path of the pipeline revealed nesting areas for turtles, some of them considered endangered.
A Rescue Takes Place
Consumers Energy joined forces with Herpetological Resource and Management, during the summer of 2023, to safely rescue and incubate the eggs of Eastern Snapping, Midland Painted, and Blanding’s turtles. Blanding’s turtles are a protected species in Michigan and are currently being considered for federal protection.
On September 7, 2023, 39 Eastern Snapping turtles, 12 Midland Painted juveniles, and 5 Blanding’s turtles were released back into the wild. In a process called “headstarting”, several Blanding’s hatchlings are being kept and monitored over the course of the winter to increase the chances of survival. They will be released next spring. Dave Mifsud, owner and manager of HRM, says,
HRM is proud to collaborate with Consumers Energy helping to ensure the next generation of turtles in Michigan. Through their efforts of rescuing turtles and headstarting hatchlings we are helping support the protection and conservation of these imperiled species.
Rescues Have Taken Place In The Past
This isn’t the first time that Consumers Energy and HRM have partnered to rescue turtles that were in the path of a pipeline project. During the two-year construction of the Saginaw Trail Pipeline more than 30 Blanding’s turtle eggs were saved and the mature juveniles were returned to the habitat after construction. Another 30,000 amphibians and reptiles were also rescued from the pipeline pathway.