In 2007, a study of the movement patterns of Northwest pond turtles was conducted by Oregon Wildlife Institute on the former Clemens Mill site in Philomath. The mill pond dikes were breached when the mill closed, but beaver industriously built dams in the breaches to hold water in the ponds. The study indicated two critical issues impacting turtle reproduction and survival: a plastic liner in the Scout Lodge pond posed an entrapment hazard for turtles and other aquatic life, and suitable nesting sites connected to the pond habitat were very limited.

The governing board of the Philomath Scout Lodge cooperated with Marys River Watershed Council and US Fish & Wildlife Service to implement a project to address these critical issues.

Newton-Scout Lodge Pond-Turtle Habitat-Plastic removal6-Sep2013
Removal of plastic liner from pond, September 2013.

In 2013, a pond level control device was installed in the beaver dam to allow the pond to be drained to remove the plastic liner. This was followed by recontouring the dike on the north side of the pond to provide a shallower slope for ease of access for nesting turtles. The Scout Lodge removed a number of conifer trees that threatened to shade the prime nesting site, and the spoils from the dike recontouring were utilized to sculpt the nesting sites to optimize warm exposure to the south and west.

The south dike was recontoured to allow for equipment access to manage invasive non-native blackberry on the dikes. The spoils were used to create beach access and a peninsula to improve human access for students and disabled visitors.

Read an article from the Gazette Times about this project: GT ARTICLE-Philomath pond improved as turtle habitat 2014_0806

This project was supported by Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Willamette Habitat Restoration Fund, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and Philomath Scout Lodge volunteers.