Turtle may need protection during Charley Western bridge demolition

CHARLES CITY — A turtle species that’s endangered in Iowa might be hanging out by the crumbling Charley Western Trailway bridge. So, before demolishing the span, the city needs to know for certain whether wood turtles frequent the area.

The Charles City Council learned last week that the city needs a trained biologist to conduct an environmental assessment.

“The DNR has conducted an environmental review concerning the proposed bridge demolition project,” City Administrator Steve Diers wrote in his update to the council. “The state-endangered wood turtle is known to occur in the vicinity of the Cedar River in Floyd County. From November-April wood turtles use rivers and streams with sandy or gravel bottoms while from May-October they use grassland, lightly wooded areas and agricultural field edges within 800 yards of river habitat. During summer, frequent trips to water are common, prompting movement through wooded or grassy corridors.”

A proposal by Stantec Consulting of Independence, Iowa, is being considered by the council. It has three tasks. First determine whether the bridge area is suitable for the turtle. Second, if it is suitable, a plan will be developed to avoid impacts on the turtle, and three, monitoring.

The costs of task 1 is $1,900, task 2 is $2,500.