March 12, 2009

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Temporary road closures during amphibian migration

Wood frog and spotted salamander

BUSHKILL - Motorists passing through parts of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Ara can expect River Road to be closed for several nights over the next three to four weeks to protect migrating amphibians.

The earliest closures could occur this week and are contingent on the weather. Every year, there are a few spring nights when warm rains fall and myriad wood frogs, spotted salamanders, spring peepers and other spring-breeding amphibians suddenly feel the ancestral urge to search the environment for prospective mates.

The trigger for these road closures will be forecasts calling for rain with mild temperatures. Since the amphibians are active principally at night and have completed their treks by dawn, the closures will be between approximately 6:00 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. In the past, motor vehicles have taken a massive toll of these species, causing impacts on the breeding population.

For the seventh year in a row, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area will accordingly take steps to protect migrating amphibians by closing River Road in Middle Smithfield Township from park headquarters south to a point north of Shawnee on two or three mild, rainy nights.

This action also offers a rare opportunity for the public to view this special moment in our surrounding environment.

Gates at the Hialeah picnic area on the southern end of River Road within the park and at headquarters near the intersection of Hidden Lake Road and River Road to the north will be closed and locked. Drivers are reminded that skirting these gates will result in fines of $50 to $150, at a minimum, and that the potential injury to members of the public from that action will be a criminal offense.

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