Kingston Public Works alters road work schedule to reduce impact on turtle nests

Click to play video 'Kingston Public Works alters road grading to accommodate turtle nesting' Kingston Public Works alters road grading to accommodate turtle nesting
Road shoulder grading starts early to protect turtle nests.

It was late June 2018 when the city of Kingston’s public works department was being criticized by some residents living on Unity Road near Collins Creek.

City crews had graded the gravel shoulder of the road and resident Rick Jeffries said dozens of turtle nests were destroyed.

READ MORE: Resident says City of Kingston may have harmed turtle nests

Since that time, the public works department has reviewed and changed its policies.

Public works director Bill Linnen says this year they’ve started regular road maintenance grading earlier to get it done in sensitive areas before the start of nesting season, which goes from mid-May into September.

“It meant juggling some priorities, with street sweeping and everything being a priority, and potholes right now,” Linnen said.

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Linnen does caution that doesn’t mean grading gravel shoulders won’t occur during nesting season.

READ MORE: Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre prepares for nesting season

Issues like washouts could force the city to grade for safety reasons during the nesting season in sensitive areas.

To further minimize impacts, Linnen says public works is training staff to identify nesting areas.

“We can then mitigate our impact as much as possible but also preserve public safety.”

The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario currently has eight turtles on its list, including the extinct Eastern box turtle.