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Dancing Turtles

Saving a home for the animals
Photo of Martin Brook by Stacy Gambrel

Mike Johnson’s family has owned this open pasture and abutting woods in Richmond since 1716. Now thanks to conservation efforts, Mike never has to worry about the land he loves being home to anything but the animals that live there.

A brook runs through the middle of this bucolic property. Many wood turtles, a protected species, thrive on places with habitat like the stream banks here.

“The Abenaki name for these turtles is worm dancers,” Mike said. “The turtles will stomp back and forth along the ground to make the worms come out, and then the turtles will eat them.” He said it’s really exciting to get to see the turtles do it because the rest of the time they are shy and hide.

Mike hopes that someday, years in the future, turtles will be found by young conservationists and that they will love the turtles and this place as much as he does.