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Contact: Kathleen Sandt, Public Affairs Specialist, (570) 426- 2472 (O) or (570) 234-9144 (C)
Superintendent John J. Donahue announced today that motorists can expect River Road within Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to be closed on several evenings over the next few weeks to protect breeding amphibians. The closures are contingent on the weather and come earlier than usual this season, as the region has experienced a relatively mild winter. Lack of snow cover on the ground and few snaps of consistently cold temperatures mean that the ground is no longer frozen, at trigger to wildlife that spring is near. “This is a great opportunity for the public to enjoy wildlife in its natural habitat and to get up close and personal with our amphibian friends,” said Donahue.
“Closing the road to vehicles not only protects the amphibians,” said Donahue of this annual natural event. “It also offers a rare opportunity for the public to observe one of the most unique natural occurrences in region.” Elevated above a large wetland, the McDade Recreational Trail boardwalk near park headquarters provides an ideal location for visitors to hear the surrounding chorus of spring peepers, wood frogs and others and to observe several species of salamanders en route to the swamp’s watery pools. Parking is available at park headquarters. Visitors are encouraged to wear light colored, reflective clothing and to bring a flashlight.
Warm, rainy, early spring evenings are when wood frogs, spotted salamanders, spring peepers and other spring-breeding amphibians suddenly feel the instinctive urge to search for prospective mates and for wetland breeding areas. In the past, disproportionately high numbers of animals have been killed by motor vehicles near 'hot-spots' like River Road at park headquarters, a high traffic area where amphibians tend to concentrate during peak breeding periods.
The National Park Service take steps to protect migrating amphibians by closing River Road in Middle Smithfield Township between park headquarters and Hialeah Picnic Area on several mild, rainy nights from mid-March to mid-April. The trigger for the road closures will be forecasts calling for evening rain with mild temperatures- usually in the 50’s. Since the amphibians are active principally at night and have completed their treks by dawn, the road will be closed at approximately 4:00 p.m. and will remain closed until approximately 6:30 a.m.