Abstract

The high valuation of urban green spaces is obvious, given the lost economic opportunities their preservation requires. With more and more of the world's human population moving to urban areas, experiences with urban wildlife are becoming increasingly important for maintenance of people's connection to and concern for the natural world. Turtle watching provides an opportunity to connect urban residents with charismatic species that engender positive aesthetic responses from the public. In Erie, Pennsylvania, the Presque Isle Partnership is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing visitor experiences at Presque Isle State Park. The park is a sandspit peninsula on Lake Erie that has abundant turtle populations in its sheltered bays and interior wetlands, particularly its populations of the common map turtle, Graptemys geographica. The common map turtles of Graveyard Pond have long been one of the park's signature wildlife spectacles. A basking aggregation that can exceed 100 turtles in late spring and early fall is enjoyed by visitors to a shoreline picnic area, canoeists, kayakers, and guests on the park's pontoon boat tours. In 2012, the Partnership funded construction of a handicapped-accessible turtle observation deck with fixed binocular viewfinders and informative signage. Total material cost for the project was $20,466 (∼ $22,922 in 2020 US dollars); labor for construction was donated by local industry. Since its construction, the observation deck has become a popular stop for park visitors. Similar projects would be suitable for many urban areas in the United States and many other countries with watchable turtle populations and would enhance urban residents' encounters with urban turtle populations.

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