Keene to Close Road to Protect Migrating Amphibians

March 8, 2018
A wood frog makes her way across North Lincoln Street in Keene. This year, she’ll have a little extra help. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

A Conservation Milestone

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 2005, our Salamander Crossing Brigades have moved tens of thousands of amphibians to safety at dozens of road crossings throughout the Monadnock Region.

In the spring of 2018, the Keene City Council voted unanimously in favor of closing the North Lincoln Street amphibian crossing site to vehicle traffic on these “Big Nights” — ensuring the safety of migrating amphibians as well as the many families who come out to witness the migration. Keene is the first community in New Hampshire to institute such a measure. Their decision was based in large part on data collected by, and a strong show of support from, our Salamander Brigade volunteers.

During salamander season — which runs from March through early May — City staff work closely with the Harris Center to implement the road closures at North Lincoln Street. Road access and parking change a bit at that site on Big Nights, but the critter counts and salamander spot pattern photographs continue, for continuity of our data and so that we can report on how many amphibians have benefited from the decision to close the road.

What part of the road will be closed to traffic?

When the detours are in place, the road will be closed from George Street to the southwest corner of Robin Hood Park, just north of the junction with Beaver Street. (See a map.) The detours will be in effect from approx. 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next morning.

How can I find out if the road will be closed?

The decision to close the road will be made by noon on any given day. We will notify folks of the closure via the Harris Center community science and City of Keene Public Works Department Facebook pages. You don’t need to be on Facebook in order to look at these links.

How can I access the site when the road is closed?

If you want to help count critters at North Lincoln Street and you live nearby, it’s best to walk. If you need to get there by car, park in the southeast section of Woodland Cemetery, near the North Lincoln Street gate. When North Lincoln Street is closed to traffic, you’ll need to access the cemetery via the Beaver Street entrance. All other cemetery entrances will be gated. Drive carefully through the cemetery after dark, as frogs may be hopping on through!

Is there anything else I need to know about visiting the crossing site?

As a reminder, amphibian migrations take place after dark, in wet weather only. If you are planning to visit North Lincoln Street to observe the migration, please dress for the weather and be sure to bring a flashlight for every member of your group, even when the road is closed to traffic. (There may be scores of small frogs on the road at any given time, and they’ll be nearly impossible to see — and avoid stepping on — if you don’t have a bright light with you. Cell phone flashlights are not sufficient.) In addition, before you head out, please double-check to make sure the road is closed to vehicles that night. We ask that only trained Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers in proper safety attire come to the crossing on nights when the road is open to vehicles.

Will this really make a difference?

Yes. Initial data from the first three seasons of amphibian road closures at North Lincoln Street indicate that the detours are reducing amphibian road mortality at this site, even when we can’t close the road for every migration night in a given season. Closing one short stretch of road for a few nights each spring may seem like a small thing, but to the thousands of amphibians who call the Robin Hood Park ecosystem home − and to all of the Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers who have helped shepherd them to safety year after year, including everyone who came out to the standing-room-only meeting in support of the road closure proposal − it’s really not small at all.

For more information on the amphibian road closures or our Salamander Crossing Brigade program, please contact Brett Amy Thelen by email.

This page was updated in February 2022.