Joining the Turtle Crew at Yosemite National Park!

Joining the Turtle Crew at Yosemite National Park!


Hi, my name is Gabby Silva and I’ve recently joined the turtle telemetry crew here at Yosemite National Park. I am very excited to be here as this is my first time on the West coast- the views and scenery have been breathtaking so far! I was previously tracking invasive Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades using radiotelemetry, and now I’ll be tracking Northwestern pond turtles which are listed as a federally threatened species. Our crew does all of our tracking at Ackerson Meadow, which can be found on the western edge of the park and is currently undergoing a major restoration project. The meadow supports extraordinary biodiversity and was donated back to the park in 2016, where restoration efforts have been in effect since. Many other state and federally endangered/threatened species including the Pacific fisher, great grey owl, and the willow flycatcher utilize this land, so it is very exciting to be playing such an active part in Yosemite’s largest wetland restoration project yet.  


Throughout the past century, the use of this meadow for farming, timber harvesting, and water diversion has created a three-mile-long gully network that is still active today. It currently measures 100 feet wide and 14 feet deep, and without human intervention and restoration efforts, the wetland will continue to erode, and the damage will be permanent. By stopping excess soil erosion, restoring natural habitats for at-risk species, and slowing down water loss, an increase in climate resiliency, carbon sequestration, and water quality and supply along with many other benefits will follow.


There are multiple phases of this restoration project- my role focuses more on phase two, which begins in Fall 2024. We are currently trapping and locating as many turtles as we can in preparation for this phase. This ensures that all of the transmitters are up to date, and that we are recruiting new turtles in order to protect as many individuals as possible when construction starts. Once it begins, I will be out there before the contractors arrive tracking turtles and removing them from the area to keep them from being injured by the heavy machinery.


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