Minneapolis Park Board creates enclosed areas to protect nesting turtles on beaches

If you visit Minneapolis beaches, you may have noticed new signs pop by small fenced-off areas saying "Turtle Nesting Area: Please Stand Back."

The encloses, which are by Lake Harriet and Bde Maka Ska, are turtle nurseries created by the Minneapolis Park Board to allow soft shell turtles to safely lay their eggs. Each mother turtle can lay up to 38 eggs at a time, and they tend to hatch between August and September.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources considers soft shell turtles a "species of special concern," as their population in the state has declined in recent years, a trend driven by water population and human activity in nesting areas, among other factors.

The park board hopes that the nurseries could also end up helping future generations of the small reptiles.

"Turtles, as they grow up after they hatch, they will remember that they were born here. And when a female turtle is old enough to finally mate and actually lay eggs, she will remember this spot and she will lay her eggs as well," Mary Lynn, the park board’s environmental education manager, told Fox 9.

The nurseries are also part of a year-long study on turtle habitats. An ecologist is working with the park board to collect data, and the public can assist by reporting any turtle sightings in Minneapolis via this website.