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Group receives grant to help track and assist turtles in Kingston’s Inner Harbour

By Mandy Marciniak,
May 20 2017

Twice a year, the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area (CFKA) gives away community grants, and this year, their spring ceremony featured a unique recipient: a turtle.

Community member Mary Farrar proudly accepted a grant for the Friends of the Inner Harbour Turtle Awareness Project in costume, something she hoped would draw attention to the growing turtle population in the Kingston neighbourhood.

“Last year, we thought we would like to find out more about the turtle population in Douglas Fluhrer Park, because we had seen so many and we wanted a baseline. We wanted to get a sense of how many were in fact there,” she explained. “We were blown away – we covered over 100 nests with screening to prevent predators from getting in and we couldn’t believe it.”

The group continued to watch the turtles throughout the season. This year, in an effort to educate the surrounding community about the expanding turtle population, they applied for a grant from CFKA to help.

The Turtle Awareness Project received $2,493 and was one of 20 grants, totalling $152,519, awarded to local charities on May 15 at the Residence Inn Marriott in Kingston. The grants are funded through community donations and this round is expected to benefit 5,262 people, including 1,246 youth in the Kingston community.

Farrar and her group members intend to use the funds to invite the public to come out to Douglas Fluhrer Park and learn more about the turtles and their habits.

“We have seen northern map, painted and snapping turtles in the area, and we have learned so much already. We want to share that with the community,” she said. “We want to have awareness days that talk about the species, teach about how to interact with them, and we will also have an indigenous knowledge keeper there to talk about the importance of the turtle in indigenous culture, too.”

The awareness days will take place on June 3, June 4, June 10 and June 11. Farrar hopes that community members come out and learn more about the neighbourhood and why the turtles are so important.

“People should know and respect more about nature – that is a goal of the Friends of the Inner Harbour,” she said. “We also hope to recruit some volunteers to help us track the turtles, protect their eggs and monitor them throughout the area.”

Farrar hopes to send the information collected by the group to Ontario Nature for their records. She also hopes to put GPS trackers on the turtles in the future to see how far they are venturing.

“This area is so unique and the turtles just add to that, and we want to keep learning more,” Farrar said.

For more information about the Turtle Awareness Project and Friends of the Inner Harbour, visit www.friendsofinnerharbour.com.