GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The painted turtle is one of the most common types seen around New York. The ponds around Crandall Park are no exception. Turtles with orange stripes on their shells and necks can be seen basking on stumps and poking their heads out of the water. Around the start of the summer, one turtle was seen doing something else – laying a clutch of eggs in the middle of the park.
“I run through the park most days,” said Elizabeth Little Hogan, of the Crandall Park Beautification Committee. “I was coming around a hill and saw a turtle there. I talked to another lady who had taken a picture, and when I called the Department of Public Works, they already knew about it.”
This summer, a sunny spot on a sandy bank near the park’s central-south wetland area became a nursery for 23 painted turtle eggs buried in the sand. Once the nest was found, DPW employees set up a barrier with cones and sticks, hoping to keep people away from the eggs until they hatched.
The barrier was a good starting point, but one city employee made it a personal mission to keep those eggs safe all through the summer. DPW employee Jody Clark placed an upside-down bucket over the nest, propped up with a rock and stick, and then proceeded to check the nest every day until everyone hatched and made their way out of the sand.
“I took over and made sure I could get as many as I could into the pond,” said Clark, who has worked for the DPW for the last five years. “They’re good for the pond – they eat weeds and dead fish. My grandson and I like to catch and release them back into the pond.”
This week, the park announced on Facebook that the monthslong mission had come to an end at last. 22 of the turtles made it to the park’s ponds – after one was squashed by an oncoming vehicle. Clark says anyone driving around bodies of water should keep a careful eye out for turtles, which are most likely to cross when freshly hatched and looking for water, or during mating season.
The turtles are part of a wide ecosystem at the park. The wetlands, located west of the ponds visible from Glen Street, are home to not just the painted turtle, but also leopard frogs, red-winged blackbirds, and dragonflies. In the summer, children are often taken to the park to scoop weeds with nets, looking for insects. For people like Clark, taking care of the ecosystem is also about maintaining that outdoor classroom.
“I was showing the turtle nest to some kids who were coming by, and they were all getting excited. I’ve been sending my grandkids pictures,” he said. “You’ve got to try and protect the wildlife.”