Continued open-space preservation might be a nonstarter in the rest of the state right now, but Sussex County will be purchasing 164 acres of habitat in order to protect the endangered bog turtle population.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded the state two grants totaling $440,000 in order to help purchase the land in Lafayette and Wantage Township. The total price is $950,000, the balance of which will be paid from what’s left of the state’s Green Acres Program financing.
The money will be spent to purchase two separate tracts, which will provide connecting greenways for existing turtle populations. The tracts will also be used for recreational purposes, such as hiking and bird watching.
The tiny bog turtle is considered endangered but can be found throughout the state, particularly in the northwest and southwest. Sighting one is a rarity due to its destroyed habitat and elusive behavior. More information about the bog turtle can be found online.