Letter to Editor—Chagrin Valley Times, July 19, 2018

Saving turtles good cause

My hat’s off to The Chagrin Valley Times and author Joan Demirjian for a really nice article on the efforts of some Geauga Park District folks and other collaborating organizations in trying to keep the endangered spotted turtles from “winking out,” that is becoming one more addition to the sad list of extinct species. All over Geauga County populations of these turtles have been disappearing at an alarming rate. When I first moved to Parkman about 40 years ago I would commonly find spotted turtles especially in the spring when females were out roaming around looking for a place to lay their eggs. One actually walked right by me one day when I was in the backyard working on my vegetable garden, but no more. It has been more than 20 years since I’ve seen one. The last one was an individual that was run over by a car.  

This brings me to the point of what was missing from the article likely because the park district officials did not wish it to be disclosed. A past park commissioner, Jeff Orndorf, both appointed and fired by Geauga County Probate Judge Timothy Grendell, was a past volunteer with the Geauga Park District and had/has a serious interest in natural history. He mentioned at a park commissioners meeting that he had been long aware of the troubled situation with spotted turtles and had inquired about ways to prevent the last turtles in the Park from being run over by cars on a park roadway near their critical habitat.

Mr. Orndorf proposed a solution that involved pathways under a critical section of park drive that would have cost only a minute fraction of the nearly $250,000 that the park district has budgeted for yearly advertising. For some reason, shortly after that meeting, Mr. Orndorf was fired as commissioner and the solution that could have prevented or reduced addition turtle deaths was never implemented.

Questions to park Director John Oros and the park commissioners on this issue were left unanswered. Perhaps Co-directors Oros and Grendell felt the funds would be better spent on additional expensive television ads on the FOX network to bring hoards of out-of-county folks and traffic to our parks. More heavy auto traffic on park roadways mean more squashed turtles. But then maybe the highest priority really is television ads with the judge and his wife walking off into the sunset. The judge gets publicity benefiting his next election, the taxpayers pick up the cost of the television ads and another species goes extinct. Am I cynical?  You bet!

So sad. 

John G. Augustine

Parkman Township

Categories: Commentary

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