Why did the salamander cross Monkton Road? To get to its spring breeding ground. But perhaps the more interesting question is: How did the salamander cross Monkton Road? It took the amphibian underpass.
There are actually two new amphibian tunnels under the Monkton-Vergennes Road, thanks to the efforts of the Town of Monkton, the Lewis Creek Association and the Vermont Agency of Transportation. The $290,000 project was completed last fall, and now the first salamander has been spotted using one of the underpasses via a tunnel wildlife camera.
The Lewis Creek Association, which raised nearly $120,000 for the project, described the tunnels in a press release before constructed started last August:
These crossings consist of two large concrete culverts with a natural bottom. Concrete walls will guide and funnel the amphibians into the culverts during their spring and fall migrations. These wildlife culverts will be large enough to accommodate other wildlife known to cross here such as bobcat. As humans use the Monkton-Vergennes Road to commute between work, home and recreation; wildlife needing access between upland habitat and wetlands, severed by the road, also travel in this corridor. The rare blue-spotted salamander is among this regionally-significant group of amphibians that inhabit the rich natural area surrounding this increasingly busy road.
There's no word yet on whether the salamander captured in the picture was a blue-spotted salamander. Either way, he or she is something of a trailblazer.