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BOSTON-The spotted turtle was removed from the state’s list of “special concern” species by the Massachusetts Board of Fisheries and Wildlife. The move paves the way for development projects to gain easier approval in areas where the turtle makes its habitat. For previous coverage on the state’s Environmental Species Regulations, click here.

“This now means there can be more sites that can be considered for development,” says David Begelfer, chief executive officer with the Boston chapter of that National Association of Office and Industrial Properties. Noting that the turtle’s previous status delayed many Bay State development projects, he praised the board’s decision, saying it lends “more credibility to the Endangered Species Act when you can remove a species rather than holding on to a species that people no longer consider endangered.”

The turtle was placed on the board’s list of Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern species in 1986 after it was found to live in just 24 locations in the state. Today, it is found in more than 960 locations. Begelfer said that while developers still must be aware of wildlife habitats as required by federal and state regulations, the change will cut down dramatically on the time it takes to develop a site.

“It allows developers to have one issue out of the way in relation to this species,” Greg Vasil, head of the Boston Real Estate Board tells GlobeSt.com. “It also is a great example of regulators taking a long, hard look at a species and having the courage to de-list it. It shows the system works.”

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