Keene to Close a Street to Protect Migrating Frogs & Salamanders

Mar 2, 2018

Volunteers help spotted salamanders like this one and other amphibians cross roads safely in Keene each spring.
Credit Brett Amy Thelen / Harris Center for Conservation Education

Frogs and salamanders in Keene got a vote of confidence from the City Council Thursday night.

Officials unanimously approved a plan to close a local road for a few nights this spring to let migrating amphibians cross in safety.

Thousands of the critters head for their breeding grounds on a handful of misty, mild nights each March and April.

Duncan Watson is Keene's assistant public works director, and he's spent years working with volunteers who help shepherd the critters across their preferred streets. But: 

"After the volunteers leave, the amphibians are still crossing the road, and oftentimes there's traffic,” he says.

And he says a single car can kill dozens of the little travelers.

"I've driven home from numerous night meetings over my career in March and April, and basically done an obstacle course of seeing the hopping frogs across the road in my headlights,” Watson says. “It's sometimes difficult to avoid them."

He thinks Keene is the first in the state to approve a temporary road closure to protect the frogs and salamanders.

They'll start with one crossing this year, on North Lincoln Street, and might expand to other amphibian hotspots in future.

For now, Watson says some frogs and salamanders will still need their volunteer protectors to help out.