Gopher tortoises leave water plant amid $6 million project

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 06:10 PM.

 Morgan Contracting contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which suggested Nokuse Plantation in Freeport.  

The plantation specializes in preserving, restoring and conserving Florida's eco-system by maintaining natural woodlands. 

 A team from the plantation found the tortoise burrows while surveying the land. Members brought a backhoe loader and shovels to retrieve the reptiles.

"We are going to keep them in an enclosed space for about a year," plantation director Matt Aresco said.

Later, the enclosure will be removed, allowing the gophers to roam freely within the plantation.

In Florida, gopher tortoises are "threatened" on the state's endangered species list.

State law protects gopher tortoises and their burrows, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife website,

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