Gulf Power Company is taking steps to protect gopher tortoises near a substation construction project in Crestview.
When conducting a wildlife assessment, the Gulf Power Environmental Affairs team found four of the large tortoises nearby. A permit was secured from the Florida Wildlife Commission and environmental consultants installed barriers to prevent them from venturing into the construction area.
The gopher tortoise, considered a threatened species in Florida, lives in burrows that can extend 30 feet. It’s considered a “keystone” species because its burrow can house more than 300 different species, including rattlesnakes.
“I refer to them as nature’s builders and architects,” said Matt Dimitriff, with 4D Environmental Consultants. “The fact that other species live in the burrow makes it one big, happy family. It really is fascinating.”
While the substation is under construction, barriers are checked at least once a week by the environmental consultants. Once the construction work is completed, fences will be removed.