River Road in Delaware Water Gap will shut down on rainy nights for amphibian crossings
Updated: May 11
This article was originally published in the New Jersey Herald.
MIDDLE SMITHFIELD, Pa. — River Road within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area may be closed on warm, rainy nights over the next two months for the annual breeding migration of amphibians.
The road runs along the bottom of a long hillside that is home to the amphibians for much of the year. They breed in the small ponds and spring pools at the bottom of the hillside and will be crossing the road.
The amphibians are active principally on nights that are warm and rainy and will have completed their treks by dawn. When rain is forecast, park officials will close the road between Park Headquarters and the Hialeah Recreation Site north of Shawnee village from 4 p.m. and reopen it at 6:30 am.
The closure allows the vulnerable amphibians to crawl or hop from distances of a few hundred feet to sometimes more than a quarter of a mile to moist breeding pools without the risk of being crushed by vehicle tires.
According to the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, rains in March will bring alive the menagerie of frogs, salamanders and toads that emerge from their winter burrows to jump-start the season. They include spotted salamanders, wood frogs, spring peepers and others.
The foundation's website shows that one vehicle may crush dozens of the slow-moving creatures as they cross the road during migration. They are so small that drivers mistake them for twigs or leaves.