Salamander Crossing Brigade Updates for 2024

February 9, 2024
A spotted salamander gets a helping hand across North Lincoln Street in Keene. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

What’s in Store for 2024…

We’ve made a few updates to the Salamander Crossing Brigades for 2024! Here’s what you need to know.
updated 3/15/24

A Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteer smiles while holding a spotted salamander. (photo © Sarah Thomas)

Salamander smiles await!
(photo © Sarah Thomas)

Getting Started

Volunteer Training

New Volunteers: This year’s volunteer training took place on March 14, but you can watch a recording on the Harris Center’s YouTube channel — and be sure to check out our bonus companion video, A (Big) Night in the Life of a Crossing Brigadier.

Returning Volunteers: You are most welcome to refresh your memory via the series of training videos on our Volunteer Materials page. If you opt-out of training this year, please be sure to read the updates below, review our volunteer materials, and let us know if you’re planning to join us on the salamander beat again this spring by filling out this form.

Sign Up to Volunteer

Whether you are a new or returning Crossing Brigadier, please let us know that you plan to volunteer by filling out this online form. Filling out that form will also ensure that you are on 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.

Liability Waivers

All of our Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers must sign a liability waiver before participating in Big Night activities with the Harris Center. 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.

Amphibian Road Closures

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

Visitors are welcome at the North Lincoln Street crossing site when that road is closed for amphibians, but we ask that only trained Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers in proper safety attire come to the Jordan Road crossing.
(photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

The Harris Center will once again be working closely with the City of Keene to implement migration-night road closures at the North Lincoln Street and Jordan Road amphibian crossing sites. The decision to close the roads will be made by mid-afternoon on any given day, and posted to our salamander forecast and the Harris Center community science Facebook page.

While the North Lincoln Street crossing will be closed to all vehicles, 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.

>> Get more details on our Big Night Detours.

Updates & Other Info for Returning Volunteers

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 counts and photos now, including one for reporting the locations of new-to-us amphibian crossings.

Three young adults wearing reflective vests stand next to a sign that says, "Caution! Salamander Crossing," (photo © Karen Seaver)

Site Coordinators set up signs and cones, record and submit data, and assist first-time volunteers at our longstanding crossing sites. (photo © Karen Seaver)

Seeking Site Coordinators

On migration nights, Site Coordinators set up signs and cones, record data and make sure it gets submitted, and assist other Crossing Brigade volunteers. They also stay in close contact with the Harris Center throughout salamander season.

We’re still looking for Site Coordinators or Co-Coordinators for crossing sites in Nelson, Swanzey, Westmoreland, and Winchester. If you have experience with amphibian crossings in these towns and would like to be a go-to person at one of these sites in 2024, please drop us a line.

Crossing Site Updates

We have added two new crossing sites to our coordinated efforts for 2024: River Road in Henniker, and Whiting Hill Road in Wilton. Additionally, we have discontinued coordinated efforts at Eastern Avenue in Keene, due to decreasing numbers of amphibians (and volunteers) at that site in recent years. (The frogs of Eastern Avenue could certainly still use a helping hand, but this is not a family-friendly site; if you plan to visit, use caution and read up on Eastern Avenue before heading out.)

Spot Pattern Photos

A cell phone in camera mode, taking a picture of a salamander in a small white box.

50 different indvidual salamanders (& counting!) have been recorded on more than one occasion by Harris Center volunteers, as evidenced by photos of their unique spot patterns. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

The spots on adult spotted salamanders are like fingerprints on humans: each salamander has its own 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:

  • Keene: North Lincoln Street & Jordan Road
  • Nelson: Nelson Road
  • Swanzey: Matthews Road & Swanzey Lake Road

Contact Us

For more information about the Salamander Crossing Brigades, please see our FAQ or contact Brett Amy Thelen by email.