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Built special dam to protect endangered turtle's habitat during pre-construction

622 rare butternut trees replanted

Terry Fox Drive in Ottawa, Ontario, is home to an extraordinary variety of rare and protected plants, trees and animals. Tasked with the job of extending the road six kilometres through undeveloped marshes and forests, Aecon crews were vigilant in preserving the very essence of the area’s ecosystem.

With roughly 13,000 butternut trees left in southern Ontario, approximately 100 of these small trees stood directly in the path of the extension. Trees not in the way were carefully fenced off, and any tree below a certain size was slated for transplanting. And while a handful of larger trees had to be removed, they were later replaced by 622 new butternut trees. While in the midst of operations, an area of naturally occurring American ginseng was also discovered and immediately fenced in until botanists from the University of Guelph harvested the perennial herb for relocation to a protected area.

As Aecon discovered, the area was also home to various frog species, the eastern milk snake, an abundance of birds (including the threatened golden-winged warbler) and the endangered Blanding’s turtle, which, by law, cannot be touched or moved. Since it can take up to 25 years for these turtles to reproduce, even the loss of a few adults can have a significant impact on the local population. To protect the turtles, a dam was built during the project’s pre-construction phase and located beside the turtle pond to keep silt from washing into the waterways. A fence on top of the dam kept the turtles from entering.

Once road work was completed, a permanent fence was installed on both sides of the pavement alongside five intersecting box culvert animal crossings designed to prevent animals from making their way onto the road. The culverts were lined with twigs and soil to accommodate the turtle’s strong dislike of travelling across concrete.

Terry Fox Drive Extension