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Florida Tortoises Evacuated to Make Room for New Highway
Florida's Wekiva Parkway is a 25-mile, $1.7 billion road and it will finally complete the beltway around metro Orlando.
In many ways, the road is a grand experiment with environmental protection built into the road plans beginning with the protection of a threatened species.
Part of the plan is to move gopher tortoises to a place where they'll be protected.
Even with a backhoe, getting the tortoises out of the ground is delicate work. The burrows the animals build go into the ground more than 20 feet and they extend horizontally a good distance.
Gopher tortoises live in dry areas, which means they are often in the way of housing developments and roads, causing their numbers to dwindle.
"They've been displaced for years and years with regulation, the lack of regulations, but with populations minimized the state upgraded them a few years ago to threatened," said environmental consultant Mike Dinardo.
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