It's not like the swallows returning to Capistrano, but a varied collection of amphibians will be out and about the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in the coming weeks, necessitating the temporary closing of some roads.
NRA Superintendent John J. Donahue says motorists can expect River Road within the NRA to be closed on several evenings over the next few weeks to protect breeding amphibians. The closures are contingent on the weather.
Every year there are a few warm, rainy, early spring nights when wood frogs, spotted salamanders, spring peepers and other spring-breeding amphibians suddenly feel the instinctive urge to search the environment 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 takes 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 50s. Since the amphibians are active principally at night and have completed their treks by dawn, the road will be closed at approximately 6 p.m. and will remain closed until approximately 6:30 a.m.
“This action also offers a rare opportunity for the public to observe one of the most unique natural occurrences in region,” said Superintendent Donahue of this annual event.
Elevated above a large wetland, the recently completed 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. Parking is available at park headquarters. Visitors are encouraged to wear light colored, reflective clothing and to bring a flashlight.