An Opportunity to Speak Up for Salamanders

February 15, 2022
A "Road Closed" sign and barricade at North Lincoln Street, Keene, NH. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

The North Lincoln Street amphibian road closures were the first of their kind in New Hampshire. Now, Keene is weighing a proposal to expand these “Big Night detours” to a second site. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Every year, on the first warm, rainy nights of spring, thousands of amphibians make their way to vernal pools to breed. Many are killed when they must cross busy roads. Since 2006, our volunteer Salamander Crossing Brigades have helped more than 60,000 amphibians survive the most dangerous journey of their lives.

Since 2018, the Harris Center has worked closely with the City of Keene to close the North Lincoln Street amphibian crossing site to vehicle traffic on these “Big Nights” — the first and only time (so far) a road has been closed for the protection of migrating amphibians anywhere in the Granite State. These temporary road closures have facilitated the safe passage of more than 6,000 amphibians and counting.

Now, the City of Keene is considering a proposal to close a second crossing site to vehicles on amphibian migration nights in the spring of 2022! Although the Jordan Road site comprises fewer individual amphibians than the North Lincoln Street crossing, it has conservation significance due to the presence of Jefferson complex salamanders, which are listed as a “Species in Greatest Need of Conservation” in New Hampshire.

Two hands holding a large gray salamander. (photo © Sigrid Scholz)

Over the last five years, our Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers have moved more than 1,200 amphibians to safety at Jordan Road, and documented 138 roadkills. These numbers include 134 live and 5 road-killed Jefferson complex salamanders, which are a Species of Conservation Concern in New Hampshire. (photo © Sigrid Scholz-Karabakakis)

While the North Lincoln Street crossing is closed to all vehicles on amphibian migration nights, the proposed plan for Jordan Road — developed by the Keene Department of Public Works in consultation with the Keene Police Department — would only close that site to through-traffic, so Jordan Road residents would still be able to drive to and from their homes when the detour was in place.

The City’s Municipal Services, Facilities, and Infrastructure (MSFI) Committee will discuss the proposal on Wednesday, February 23 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Keene City Hall. A show of public support at this meeting could go a long way toward making these Big Night detours a reality. There will be opportunity for public comment, but simply showing up makes a statement that you care. You do not need to be a Keene citizen to attend.

If you plan to attend the meeting, please let us know so we can notify you if anything changes. If you have a reflective vest — the official uniform of our Crossing Brigade volunteers! — wear it to the meeting as a show of support.

UPDATE: On February 23, the MSFI Committee voted unanimously in support of the Jordan Road amphibian detours! (If you missed the meeting, you can watch it here, starting at 11:20.) One of the Councilors wanted to make sure the record reflected their gratitude for everything the Salamander Crossing Brigades have done for amphibians in Keene, and said “it’s really special.”On March 3, the full City Council also voted unanimously in support of the closures, making it official!

Contact Us

For more information on amphibian road closures in Keene, please contact Brett Amy Thelen at (603) 525-3394 or by email.