What’s New in 2022
We’ve made a few updates to the Salamander Crossing Brigades for 2022! Here’s what you need to know.
We encourage new volunteers to attend our Zoom workshop on March 15, where you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and quiz yourself on your newfound amphibian knowledge. (UPDATE on March 17: You can watch a recording of the training on our YouTube channel.) We’ve also created a series of shorter training videos for folks who were unable to attend the Zoom training, or would prefer not to watch a 90-minute recording. They don’t have the same level of detail or interactivity offered by our live event, but they do cover the basics. You can find links to them on our Volunteer Materials page.
Online Data Submission
Gone are the days of sending in amphibian counts via email! We’ve got snazzy online forms for submitting your Big Night data now. Submit your counts and photos here.
Email List Signup
Everyone who attends our volunteer training is invited to join our Salamander Crossing Brigade email list, which we use to share amphibian migration forecasts, as well as field reports from Big Nights and other salamander-related news. If you are a returning volunteer who does not plan to attend this year’s training — or if you’ll be training yourself via the videos on our Volunteer Materials page — please let us know that you plan to volunteer by filling out our online form. Sign up for our Salamander Brigade email list here.
You’ll be thrilled to learn that we must now ask all our Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers to sign a liability waiver. We need a separate form for each volunteer — including one for each child in a family of Crossing Brigadiers, signed by a parent or guardian — and for each year of participation. It’s an online form, and should only take a few minutes. Fill out your 2022 liability waiver here.
Spot Pattern Photos
The spots on adult spotted salamanders are like fingerprints on humans: each salamander has its own unique constellation of markings, which can be used to tell that individual apart from all the others. We’ve undertaken a special project to create a photographic database of individual spotted salamanders found at amphibian road crossings associated with our Crossing Brigades. Although we’ve accepted photos from many sites in the past, for ease of data management we are now concentrating our efforts on five long-established sites that have a consistent salamander and volunteer presence year after year. Moving forward, please only submit spot pattern photos from the following crossings: North Lincoln Street (Keene), Jordan Road (Keene), Matthews Road (Swanzey), Swanzey Lake Road (Swanzey), and Nelson Road (Nelson). Learn more about our spot pattern project here.
Traffic safety has always been of the utmost concern for our Salamander Crossing Brigade program. Now, COVID-19 safety is too. Here are the precautions we expect all our Crossing Brigade volunteers to follow to help keep one another healthy this spring.
Know when to stay home.
If you or anyone in your household has recently tested positive or been exposed to COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms, please stay home.
Know when to wear a mask.
Masks are no longer required at outdoor Harris Center programs, including Big Nights. However, we do ask that you come prepared with a face mask and be prepared to wear it over your mouth and nose whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained (…such as when gathering together to admire salamanders!)
Do not use hand sanitizer before handling amphibians.
Hand sanitizer can be harmful to amphibians, who readily absorb toxins through their skin. Instead, wash your hands with soap and water before you head out and as soon as you get home after a night on the road.
Amphibian Road Closures
North Lincoln Street
Harris Center staff will once again be working closely with the City of Keene to implement migration-night road closures at the North Lincoln Street amphibian crossing site. The decision to close the road will be made by mid-afternoon on any given day, and posted to our salamander forecast and the Harris Center community science Facebook page. Learn more about the North Lincoln Street amphibian detours here.
In early March, the Keene City Council voted unanimously in support of expanding these Big Night detours to the Jordan Road crossing site, as well! While the North Lincoln Street crossing will be closed to all vehicles on amphibian migration nights, Jordan Road will only be closed to through-traffic. As a result, although families and other community members are welcome to visit the North Lincoln Street crossing site when that road is closed for amphibians, we ask that only trained Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers in proper safety attire come to the Jordan Road crossing. Learn more about the Jordan Road amphibian detours here.
If you spent any time crossing amphibians at Jordan Road in Keene over the last fifteen years, then you likely walked alongside Sigrid Scholz-Karabakakis. Sigrid was our Site Coordinator at Jordan Road for more than a decade, never missing an amphibian migration night unless she was physically incapable of being there — and even then, she always made sure to line up someone to serve in her stead. Over the years, she personally provided safe passage for thousands of salamanders and frogs, and mentored many new Crossing Brigade volunteers along the way. Her care, compassion, and immense dedication to the natural world were an inspiration. It is with deep sadness that we share news of her passing on January 29, 2022. In honor of her remarkable life and legacy, we are dedicating the 2022 salamander season to Sigrid Scholz-Karabakakis.