With a hand from some young helpers, we recently released two dozen little turtles back into their natural habitat after they were rescued during construction of our Mid-Michigan Pipeline Project.

Several employees and their children joined the turtle release in rural Ingham County. The turtles came from eggs of adult females carefully removed from the pipeline path and were incubated and nurtured by Chelsea-based Herpetological Resource and Management (HRM) with help from Sea Life Michigan Aquarium.

“It’s become something of a tradition for us at Consumers Energy to release turtles back into the wild each year, and we’re proud to do our part to preserve them as part of our commitment to sustainable construction practices,” said Brandon Hofmeister, senior vice president of strategy, sustainability and external affairs. “We’re conscious of our role in protecting Michigan’s wildlife and are committed to efforts like this because we know it’s right for our customers, the communities we serve and the planet.”

Last fall, we released 56 turtles rescued during the project. More recently, HRM rescued and incubated 24 turtle eggs. Blanding’s turtles are a protected species in Michigan. While they can live more than 80 years, they also have a maturity period of 15 to 20 years, which makes them particularly vulnerable to predators.

Since 2009, we have worked with HRM to protect and manage wetland wildlife along the path of our construction projects. Over the course of two years on the Saginaw Trail Pipeline, with the help of HRM, we saved more than 30 Blanding’s Turtle eggs before returning mature juveniles to the habitat after construction was completed and rescued/relocated nearly 30,000 amphibians and reptiles out of the construction pathway.

The Mid-Michigan Pipeline replaces about 55 miles of natural gas pipeline in Washtenaw, Livingston, Ingham, Shiawassee and Clinton counties. The two-phase, $550 million project will replace vintage 20-inch pipeline dating back to the 1940s with new 36-inch pipeline that helps us move natural gas more quickly, safely and efficiently. The project is slated for completion this fall.