February 3, 2003
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) needs dedicated volunteers to assist the Division of Fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) in collecting important information on critical habitats for reptiles and amphibians throughout the state this spring.
Throughout the winter and early spring, water collects in wetland areas in forests and meadows forming temporary pools that remain through early summer. These seasonal wetlands, known as vernal pools, are critical habitats for several species of amphibians that rely upon them for breeding.
The DEP is looking for volunteers to identify and certify all of the State's vernal pools. Anyone who would like to volunteer at least 40 hours to conduct surveys of salamanders and frogs at vernal pools should attend one of the upcoming training seminars scheduled on March 1 and 8 - the first two Saturdays in March.
The number of healthy, ecologically intact vernal pools has declined significantly over the past several decades in New Jersey as a result of development. The loss of this critical habitat has consequently put the species that depend on vernal pools for breeding habitat at risk. To protect and prevent the destruction of vernal pools, the DEP recently adopted regulations under the State Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act. All activities within a vernal pool that meet specific biological and physical criteria are now regulated.
In addition to serving as breeding habitat, vernal pools are a source of forage, refuge and water for a multitude of mammals, birds, insects and other wildlife.
Seating for the training seminars is limited. Individuals must be willing to devote at least 40 hours to surveying.
To register and find out more information, visit the Division of Fish and Wildlife's website at www.njfishandwildlife.com/ensp/vpoltrn03.htm.