Spotted salamanders set to migrate across Beekman Road

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EAST BRUNSWICK – As the warm weather of spring approaches, the vernal pools near Beekman Road will be populated by spotted salamanders as they migrate to breed.

To accommodate the migration, Beekman Road will be intermittently closed from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. over the following months. However, residents are encouraged to safely witness the spectacle on foot when the roads are officially closed.

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Nearly 20 years ago, Dr. David Moskowitz started the Amphibian Protection Program after finding scores of dead salamanders and frogs scattered along Beekman Road. The discovery led him to notify the township of the unfortunate situation.

“We brought it to the attention of the township and an action plan of temporary road closings was immediately implemented. It has been successfully employed every year since with fantastic support of the township … Without these breeding habitats protected and safe passage across the road, we would lose part of our town’s natural heritage,” he said.

Moskowitz explained that East Brunswick’s vernal pools are home to a variety of amphibious species such as spotted salamanders, wood frogs, spring peepers, northern gray treefrogs, chorus frogs and eastern newts.

He stated that the protection program creates an environment that allows the population of these unique species to safely and gradually multiply.

Moskowitz’s goal for next year is to further extend road closures to ensure the migration is a continued success.

“Next year, we are planning on more extensive seasonal road closings from February to May with the support of the township,” he said.

As the current chairman of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission (EBEC) and president of the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission, Moskowitz said both commissions are dedicated to protecting the township’s environment.

“The mission of the EBEC and the Friends is local environmental protection and education. Our programs are extremely broad and include: the Salamander and Amphibian Protection program on Beekman Road, the Butterfly Park, local moth nights and the global citizen science program – National Moth Week, the Community Garden, Freecycle, Boy Scout and Girl Scout projects, and in conjunction with the East Brunswick Library, Option Green Lecture Series and the Seed Library and Seed Saver Donation and Swap program,” Moskowitz said.

Over the years, the Amphibian Protection Program has garnered both local and international media attention, but Moskowitz said the most important thing is preserving the township’s biodiversity for future generations.

“Our program has won many awards and has spotlighted the plight of amphibian migrations that cross roads and the importance of vernal pool protection. It has received incredible attention from local, state, national and even international media coverage.

“But most importantly, it has helped to protect our towns natural biodiversity and has allowed so many children, families and residents, to witness a really spectacular natural event right in our own town,” he said.

The Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission urge that visitors wear brightly colored clothing and use actual flashlights to avoid stepping on the amphibians. It is also advised that visitors do not attempt to pickup or carry the amphibians.

For more information on the salamander migration, visit www.friendsebec.com/salamander-migration.html

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