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Gopher Tortoise Survey, Permitting and Relocation

Crystal River, Florida, USA


Client Progress Energy Florida
Industries Land Development, Power
Services Biological Sciences, Golder Construction Services

Assignment
A survey was conducted along a 5-mile well water pipeline utility right-of-way to determine the presence of gopher tortoise burrows within the construction limits of the project. Approximately 28 potentially occupied gopher tortoise burrows were identified at the donor site within 25 feet of the proposed construction activities. Gopher tortoises are protected as a threatened species under Florida law.

Our Role
Golder prepared a Standard Gopher Tortoise Relocation Permit and submitted it to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) prior to construction. Once the permit approval was received, the 28 potentially occupied burrows were excavated utilizing a backhoe and hand shovel. An experienced ecologist supervised the relocation activities. Golder Construction Services provided the backhoe, an experienced backhoe operator, and a crew member to aid in the excavation. Nine gopher tortoises were found occupying the excavated burrows; these tortoises were then sexed, measured, and uniquely marked according to FFWCC guidelines. The gopher tortoises and commensal species were relocated to the C. Herman Beville Ranch, an FFWCC-approved recipient site.