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Protecting Turtles, Improving the Waterway

Forest Park Forever Park Ecologist Amy Witt

In the heart of Forest Park — between the Boathouse and the Muny, just southwest of Pagoda Circle — work has begun to greatly improve the visitor experience. A highly anticipated Forever campaign project will completely rebuild Liberal Arts Bridge, which has been covered with orange construction fencing for years in anticipation of a much needed replacement. In addition to rebuilding the bridge, this capital improvement project will significantly enhance the waterway and surrounding grounds, creating an attractive meadow with native plantings and spillways in the water. In the past decades, this area had become home to overgrown banks and invasive species such as bush honeysuckle and wintercreeper. 

As this area’s grounds were prepped for construction, Forest Park Forever Park Ecologist Amy Witt led the implementation of a Wildlife Impact Mitigation & Inventory Plan — part of our efforts to ensure a better Forest Park for all, including the reptiles and amphibians. Working with partners from the Saint Louis Zoo, Missouri Department of Conservation, Fontbonne University and Chaminade College Preparatory School, Witt and the team collected Park wildlife – about 50 turtles so far — then inventoried and relocated them to other sites along the waterway where they can continue to live safely. When this project was just getting started, St. Louis Public Radio Science Reporter Eli Chen spent some time with the crew for a news segment: "Forest Park takes stock of its turtles to create better wildlife habitat" 

When this project is complete, wildlife will be reintroduced to this much improved natural area, and we will have a better sense of what kind (and how many) animals call this area home.