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Team builds new habitats for endangered turtles

Russell Hixson
Team builds new habitats for endangered turtles

A B.C. Lafarge project aims to save the province’s rare turtles. This month, Lafarge volunteers worked alongside the Coastal Painted Turtle Project (CPTP) team members, and the Lequamel First nations to construct turtle nesting beaches in Agassiz, B.C. in hopes of sustaining their population indefinitely.

"Lafarge has been supporting the CPTP for a number of years, helping with projects on the Sunshine Coast and South Coast of BC. We are very grateful that Lafarge donates nesting beach sand, transports it and provides volunteers to help place it at breeding sites," said Deanna MacTavish, CPTP project leader.

Coastal populations of western painted turtles are listed as endangered federally and red-listed provincially.

They are the only remaining native freshwater turtle in British Columbia.

Brian Spear, assistant project superintendent, said that Lafarge supplied 10 volunteers and 90 cubic metres of sand for the beach habitats.

The team also partnered with the local First Nations who provided two volunteers.

Over the course of the day, they prepped the grade and installed the sand with excavators. Then, volunteers spread out the sand.

Spear said the team even found four baby turtles right on the dike near the beaches while working.

"We feel like it’s important to give back to the community," Spear said.

"It was a good experience for us."

The team’s next beach work to support the turtles will be at Burnaby Lake.

Spear said Lafarge is also planning to partner with Langley Concrete in the coming months to construct a toad crossing near Ryder Lake in Chilliwack, B.C.

The company is also in the middle of rebuilding a Port Moody fish hatchery.

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