Monday
February 27, 2017

River Road may close early this year to protect amphibians

BUSHKILL - For the past 15 years the National Park Service has taken steps to protect migrating amphibians by closing River Road in Middle Smithfield Township between park headquarters and Hialeah Picnic Area. Superintendent John Donahue announced that motorists can expect River Road to be closed for a few nights over the next several weeks to protect breeding frogs and salamanders. This closure allows vulnerable amphibians to crawl or hop from distances of a few hundred feet to sometimes more than a quarter mile, to moist breeding pools without the risk of being crushed by vehicle tires.

The closures typically begin mid-March through mid-April. However, this year, similar to last, the region experienced a mild winter with little snow cover. The closures are triggered when weather forecasts call for evening rains with mild temperatures in the 50’s. As the ground thaws, a myriad of wood frogs, spotted salamanders, spring peepers and other spring-breeding amphibians follow their ancestral urge to search for prospective mates. When conditions are right, there are often hundreds, if not thousands, of amphibians on the move all across the region.

Since their movement is primarily nocturnal River Road will be closed at approximately 4:00 p.m. and will remain closed until approximately 6:30 a.m. This action also offers a rare opportunity for the public to view this special event in a protected park environment. Parking is available at park headquarters. Visitors are encouraged to wear light-colored, reflective clothing, to bring a flashlight, and to please watch their step!

Gates in the park will be closed and locked at the Hialeah picnic area on the southern end of River Road and by Park Headquarters near the intersection of Hidden Lake Road and River Road to the north. 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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