If your northern Virginia project site includes a clear, moderate- to fast-flowing perennial stream and a relatively undisturbed floodplain, it may be home to the wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta). As a state-threatened species in Virginia, the wood turtle is protected by state endangered species laws. You can minimize the impact this species can have on your project schedule by having Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI) conduct a wood turtle survey early in the development process in the prescribed survey windows: October 15 – December 15 and February 15 – April 15.

Because the wood turtle is considered uncommon in Virginia, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) must consider potential impacts to this species before issuing permits to impact wetlands and other jurisdictional waters. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) recommends wood turtle surveys be conducted on project sites where suitable habitat is present, within any county of known or likely occurrence.

Where is the Wood Turtle?

This semi-aquatic turtle is found in the eastern United States from Canada to Virginia, with northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley representing the southern limit of its range. The wood turtle is not considered a threatened or endangered species in Maryland and is not found in North Carolina. The following Virginia localities have known records or likely occurrence of wood turtles:

We can help!

WSSI has DWR-approved wood turtle surveyors on staff, and we have conducted many habitat evaluations and surveys for this species throughout Virginia. We can conduct preliminary (and relatively inexpensive) site evaluations at any time of year to determine whether there is potentially suitable habitat for wood turtle on your project site – and for some sites, this habitat evaluation may be all that is necessary to confirm absence of the species.
Contact us to schedule your wood turtle survey now and keep this species from delaying your wetlands permit! For more information about the wood turtle please reach out to the contacts below.


  • Ben Rosner, PWS, PWD, CE

    Director - Environmental Science

    Gainesville, VA

  • Jennifer Feese, PWS, PWD

    Environmental Resources Manager – Energy

    Gainesville, VA

  • Robert Wright, PWD, PWS, CNRP

    Senior Associate Regulatory Specialist

    Richmond, VA