Wildlife Studies

Project Title: Spectra Energy Pipeline Project Bog Turtle Phase I and Phase II Survey
Project Location: USFWS Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Chatham and Harding Townships, Morris County, New Jersey
Project Client: TRC Environmental Group
Project Sponsor: Spectra Energy

In order to comply with US Fish and Wildlife Service requirements for Vegetation Management of the Spectra Energy’s gas pipeline (L30A and 26-inch Mainline (M/L)) ROWs located within Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) boundaries Amy S. Greene Environmental Consultants, Inc. (ASGECI) was contracted to perform Phase I and Phase II surveys for the Federally-listed threatened and NJ State-listed endangered bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii).

ASGECI performed a Phase I Habitat Assessment for the entire 32,000 linear ft. Spectra Energy ROW located within the Great Swamp NWR. Wetland areas that met the soils, vegetation and hydrologic criteria for bog turtle were identified via GPS, mapped on aerial photos and described in detail in a prepared Phase I report. ASGECI identified 21 emergent and scrub shrub habitats meeting bog turtle criteria throughout the ROW. Habitats ranged in size from less than 1/10th acre to over 6 acres. The boundaries of these areas within the ROW were recorded via GPS and mapped. Multiple species of herptiles were identified during the survey. ASGECI also identified multiple wetland areas not meeting bog turtle habitat criteria along the ROW which were also described in the Phase I report.

Following performance of the Phase I survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) NWR Staff requested that a bog turtle survey using approved Phase II methodology be performed to update records of bog turtle presence along a portion of the pipeline ROWs within the Refuge. ASGECI performed a population evaluation using Phase II bog turtle survey methods on 12.75 acres of habitat within and adjacent to a portion of the Refuge ROW in Harding Township. ASGECI expended approximately 213 person hours over eight survey days within the designated Phase II Survey Area. Survey events were led by two ASGECI USFWS Recognized Qualified Bog Turtle Surveyors with support from five additional ASGECI scientists. USFWS staff also participated in visual surveys and conducted Phase III trapping efforts during the ASGECI survey. No bog turtles were found during the surveys. Multiple herptile species including snapping turtles, painted turtles, spotted turtles, box turtles, garter snakes, water snakes, black racers, pickerel frogs, leopard frogs, cricket frogs and green frogs were identified during the surveys. The Phase II report included all survey methodologies, details and results including expended survey hours, species identified, and field conditions during surveys. ASGECI worked closely with Great Swamp Refuge Staff during all studies to coordinate access and gain approval of survey areas and all methodologies utilized.

The information gathered from this project will be utilized in preparation of a Right-of Way Vegetation Management Plan for Spectra energy. The plan will identify locations of concern and special precautions to protect bog turtles and their habitats on Rights-of Way within Great Swamp NWR.

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