NY State Parks, PSEG Long Island, and The Seatuck Partner to Protect Terrapin Turtles

The New York State Office of Parks and Recreation, the electric power utility PSEG Long Island, and the Seatuck Environmental Association (Seatuck), a private not-for-profit wildlife conservation organization, have worked cooperatively to complete a project to safeguard diamondback terrapins at Orient Beach State Park. The project is designed to keep female terrapins, who come ashore in June and July to lay their eggs, from accessing the main entrance road to the state park where, in the past, varying numbers of terrapins have been killed by vehicles. The turtles are prevented from accessing the road through the placement of 2000 feet of 6-inch high drainage tubing which the terrapins cannot climb over. The tubing, placed along several stretches of the northern road edge, is anchored in the soil by bent steel rebar and the tubing sections are connected to prevent gaps.

“One of the important missions of NY State Parks is to protect wildlife occurring within our remarkable park system and this project will, we believe, significantly reduce and perhaps eliminate terrapin roadkill in the park,” said William Bohach, Manager of Orient Beach State Park, adding “We are pleased to have participated in this effort which should also benefit the park’s resident box turtles. Between the informational handouts about terrapins we give each visitor, the roadside signs informing visitors of their presence, and the tubing we just installed, terrapins at Orient Beach State Park should prosper.”

“PSEG Long Island is proud to have provided funding for this most worthwhile project,” noted Peggy Keane, interim president and COO of PSEG Long Island. “Protecting Long Island’s wildlife heritage supports our commitment to being a good environmental steward and we can’t think of a more appropriate way to have an early Earth Day celebration,” Ms. Keane added.

“Terrapins face myriad threats to their survival on Long Island and being struck by vehicles is a significant one, especially since this threat relates only to female terrapins who are following their ancient urge to come ashore to lay eggs, creating the next generation,” explained Enrico Nardone, Seatuck’s Executive Director. “Given how important female terrapins are to the welfare of the local population, it is essential we implement measures to protect them and the installation of the tubing does just that,” he added.

“We hope to work with State Parks and PSEG Long Island in implementing a few other strategies at Orient Beach State Park to further protect terrapins,” said John Turner, a Conservation Policy Advocate for Seatuck. “This will include the placement, north of the access road, of “terrapin gardens”, nesting areas created by establishing a foot-deep bed of sand in which the terrapins can safely lay their eggs,” he said, adding “The diamondback terrapin population at the state park and the surrounding waters, including Hallock Bay, is one of the larger on Long Island and we want to do whatever we reasonably can to safeguard it.”