Henry Street Salamander Tunnels

Every year after the first spring rains in Amherst, volunteer “bucket brigades” used to stop traffic along Henry Street to carry migrating spotted salamanders safely across the road on Big Night.

salamander

Henry Street separates salamanders from the vernal pools (small temporary ponds) where they migrate every spring to mate and to lay eggs. When word spread about the animals’ plight, the British Fauna and Floral Preservation Society and ACO Polymer in Germany provided funds for an experimental tunnel project on Henry Street. In 1987, the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Amherst Department of Public Works, University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Audubon Society, and local residents worked together to build two tunnels, 200 feet (61m) apart, and short “drift fences” to guide migrating salamanders into the tunnels. Today, the Hitchcock Center maintains these important migratory tunnels with volunteers to ensure that they remain free of debris and that the drift fences are mended after the heavy winter snow.

Our  gratitude to Cowls Building Supply and the Jones Family for allowing the Henry Street Salamander Tunnel project to be built on their land. Each year, they have generously provided the Hitchcock Center with building materials and supplies needed to keep these tunnels in good repair.

salamander_tunnel_car

Interested in joining us to help with tunnel maintenance? Visit our volunteer page for a call for volunteers in late winter.

For more about the salamanders, the Henry Street tunnels, images and video, check here and here. More information can be found in this Highlights Magazine article.

Big Night Instructions

Download a pdf version of the instructions.

Big  Night occurs each spring when spotted salamanders and wood frogs migrate from their winter woodland habitats to nearby vernal wetlands to breed. During the first warm spring rains, in March or sometimes as late as April, after dark and with a stable temperature of 40 degrees F or above amphibians are likely to be moving.

If you are considering visiting the Henry Street tunnels for Big Night, we ask that you please consider the following guidelines to help keep the salamanders, frogs, and humans safe.

Thank you for your cooperation and enjoy the night!

 

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment