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‘Turtle tunnels’ installed in Dakota County to help protect

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Dakota County has installed “turtle tunnels” in Eagan to help wildlife travel safely near the area. 

According to a press release on Friday, the county installed three tunnels or “critter crossings” along Cliff Road in Eagan as part of a construction project to help provide safe passage for turtles and other small animals that travel near Lebanon Hills Regional Park.  

The tunnels were placed in areas where wildlife crossings are especially dangerous, such as those near Holland Lake and McDonough Lake, the press release said. Animals are guided to the tunnels by fencing and enter the small concrete opening to safely cross beneath the roadway. 

“When we have projects like these wildlife tunnels, we are helping to facilitate wildlife movement within the landscapes they travel — a little better and a little safer,” Dakota County Parks Natural Resources Manager Tom Lewanski said.

Trail cameras recently captured a snapping turtle, muskrat, and squirrel using the new passages. 

turtle crossing

A Trail cameras capture a turtle using the new “critter crossings” in Eagan. (Credit Dakota County)

Dakota County isn’t the only place in the Twin Cities metro taking steps to protect turtles. The City of Bloomington requested a $300,000 federal grant in late July to build a permanent chain link fence aimed at keeping snapping and painted turtles off a busy stretch of Bush Lake Road. 

The fence would replace a temporary fabric fence built a few years ago but has since worn out. The new fence would run about a mile around a section of Bush Lake and stand up to the elements, landscaping and turtle migration. 

“Turtles have a long history here. I mean, they’ve been here long before we were here, and we need to blend our urban environment better with the natural ecosystems,” said Brian Gruidl, Water Resources Manager for the City of Bloomington. 

If approved, the fence should be installed by 2025. 

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