AmeriCorps Service Day Project: Diamondback Terrapin Habitat Expansion

This week, we were joined by service members from AmeriCorps Cape Cod at our Margaret Wyman “Turtle Garden” sanctuary in West Barnstable, in preparation for the 2024 Diamondback Terrapin nesting season!


This effort was part of a long-awaited meadow restoration and habitat expansion for the Diamondback Terrapins that call our sanctuary “home.” The Wyman Sanctuary is a marsh-side meadow that is a historic nesting site for the threatened Diamondback Terrapin and Orenda is permitted to conduct nest protection here. As a result of the volunteer efforts to protect and monitor nesting activity, hatchling numbers have been on the rise! This means we needed to make more space for turtles to return to. Diamondback Terrapins have site fidelity, which means they return to nest each year at the site where they were born. The surrounding forest had started to grow into the meadow, which was why it was so critical to have AmeriCorps help to open up the habitat once again.

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We spent the morning clearing trees and brush – mainly small oaks and pitch pines –  which are typical trees that move in at the beginning of forest succession here on Cape Cod. AmeriCorps members used chainsaws and hand saws to fell trees and dug up smaller trees, as well. This helped to create space for nesting and provide more sunlight, which is important for nest development. The afternoon was spend digging up grasses and ground cover in select “beds,” 8×12 foot areas of exposed ground using hand tools. This exposed ground offers a more appealing nesting substrate for female terrapins and facilitates easier monitoring of nesting activity for our volunteers.

There is more work to be done raking and preparing the nesting beds for the Terrapins in the coming season, but the work completed this week with the help of AmeriCorps was an important step in opening up this habitat for years to come.

We are very grateful to have had the assistance of this tremendous group of service-minded young adults from AmeriCorps, who have made a commitment to address the environmental and disaster preparedness needs in the communities of Barnstable County. Thank you for your service, AmeriCorps Cape Cod!


About Orenda:

We are a volunteer-driven non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and protect open space for wildlife habitat, fresh air, and water quality in sanctuaries on Cape Cod and throughout Massachusetts. Working with the public, and in collaboration with other like-minded organizations and community partners, we are committed to achieving our mission through land acquisition, outreach and educational initiatives focused on the critical role that conservation plays in the future of our planet.

Learn more about Orenda Wildlife Land Trust, and how you can support our mission, here!