Picture this: It’s past 10pm and Peggy is outside in her rainboots, a bright yellow raincoat, and some reflective gear. She has a bucket on her arm, a flashlight in one hand, and a big spotted salamander in her other hand. It’s cold and raining and way past her bedtime but dozens of these local amphibians need her help! Yep, It’s salamander migration season! For the past 15 years Peggy has been helping these Spot-tacular salamanders make it across busy roads towards the vernal pools they use for breeding. With the help of great organizations like BEEC, we’ve saved hundreds of salamanders from being run over by cars (and depending on the amount of traffic, this can result in huge dents in the salamander population)!
Our forests are so much more than just trees. When Peggy started Vermont Woods Studios in 2005, she was inspired to help save disappearing animal habitats by promoting sustainable forestry. Did you know that almost every species of large primate & big cat are endangered? While these salamanders aren’t endangered (at least not yet), we want to make sure it stays that way! These salamanders have been following the same migration patterns for hundreds of years, way before roads and cars and all of the man-made things that put them in danger. On nights where we might have missed them crossing, there is evidence left on the roads of the threat to the survival of these crawly creatures that cars pose.
The least we can do is help these slow movers make it to where they’re headed.
After the salamanders have crossed and made it to the vernal pools, we visit them to see how many egg clusters we can find. This helps us keep track of the success of the salamanders each year and assures us that our efforts are making a difference!
All in all, we take care and keep track of the success of the salamander migration because we care about our environment– even the smallest parts! If you’re interested in learning more about helping salamanders, check out the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center website.
Come join us at the Salamander Soiree tonight, April 5th from 6-8:30pm at the River Garden on Main Street in Brattleboro VT. A number of animal lovers from Vermont Woods Studios will be attending the annual party sponsored by our friends at the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center BEEC. We’ll be helping to recruit and train crossing guards for this year’s annual amphibian migration. Why not join us?
Tom Tyning, author of the Stokes Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles will be speaking about his research projects on vernal pools, rare salamanders, endangered snakes, and spade foot toads. Tom is always lively, informative, and funny. Other festivities include: hors d’oeuvres, live music and the famous Salamander Crossing Guard Fashion Show. Bring your iphone or ipad and you can install BEEC’s new Salamander Crossing app. Best of all, it’s free!
For a little background on why a fine furniture company would be so dedicated to protecting frogs, toads and salamanders, here’s a look back at previous amphibian-related posts:
Fourteen years ago Patti Smith convinced me to keep Kendall and Riley (who were 2 and 4 at the time) up past their bedtime and march them outside into the streets of Vernon on a cold and rainy night in the early Spring. What kind of person would be able to persuade me and hundreds of other mothers and nature lovers to do such a thing?
Only Patti Smith. And why? To save salamanders, frogs and toads. Well you just have to check out her project on Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center's (BEEC) website to understand the animal magnetism that keeps me and other nature lovers padding along Vermont's country roads every Spring on cold, wet nights.
So with such a challenging job that goes unnoticed by many, we are thrilled to see Patti being recognized and nominated by the Central Vermont Public Serivce Corporation for the 2012 CVPS-Zetterstorm Environmental Award. Way to go Patti! And congratulations to the other nominees who help protect Vermont's natural resources to make our state the outstanding place it is to live and work in.
Our work in green forestry sometimes offers the pleasant surprise of being up close and personal with amphibians. Did you know that 2008 has been officially designated “The Year of the Frog?” That’s because there’s a global amphibian extinction crisis that many
scientists believe represents the greatest species conservation challenge in
the history of humanity. After thriving for
over 360 million years, up to half of the world’s 6,000 known amphibian species
could go extinct in our lifetime. How sad is that?
Last night we and other volunteers
donned rain coats and boots and patrolled the streets of Vermont looking for migrating spotted salamanders. These
ancient creatures who live their lives burrowed down beneath the surface of the
earth, dig their way out through the dirt and leaves on a warm (well
>42F–that’s warm for VT) rainy night every April to join a mass
exodus of brethren heading for spring pools to breed. Since their
prehistoric journey now takes them across roads, we volunteers lend a helping
hand by setting up checkpoints around breeding sites, warning motorists and
escorting the salamanders safely across the road.
Would you ever consider getting involved in a project like this? It’s actually great fun. You would not believe all the action that takes place in the forest on a rainy spring night. Frogs and toads are everywhere and the chorus from our spring peepers is music to anyone’s ears. What’s
going on in your neighborhood? Don’t forget the little guys… frogs, toads and
salamanders. They are like “canaries in the coal mine,”as their porous skin makes them the
first species to be affected by pollution, global warming and other environmental stressors. When they show
declines in the wild, it serves as a warning to other species. Humans, are you listening? Are you acting?