Protecting Jefferson Salamander made Burlington a Conservation Hero



Written by:  Norm Miller, Communications Advisor, Conservation Halton

The first year it happened, it was a big deal. How big? It was a national media story with organizations like the Huffington Post, Maclean’s, Global TV, Burlington Post, CBC Radio and Television, Toronto Star, all talking about it. It was even mentioned on David Suzuki’s Facebook page.

Four years later it may not get the same attention, but it’s still a big deal for a little creature, the endangered Jefferson Salamander. What happened was the City of Burlington (at the suggestion of Conservation Halton) made the decision to completely close King Road to all traffic from the base of the Niagara Escarpment to Mountain Brow Road.

The closure, which usually lasts for three weeks, allows the endangered Jefferson Salamander safe passage during its annual migration to lay eggs. Adult salamanders migrate to their breeding ponds in mid-March or early April during wet rainy nights. They show strong affinity for their birth pond and can be very determined to reach it, often crossing busy roads.

A voluntary road closure was put into place for 2011, but road mortality surveys conducted by Conservation Halton indicated it was not effective. Conservation Halton recommended a complete road closure for 2012, the City implemented the closure and there was no salamander mortality as a result.

The City of Burlington was presented with the Stewardship Award at the 2012 Conservation Halton Awards for its bold step to undertake a full closure of King Road during the critical breeding period.  The cooperative partnership between Burlington and Conservation Halton bolstered public support for species at risk protection and provided a model for other municipalities to follow.

This year’s closure was from March 25 to April 15 and while it may not get as much attention, it still is a very significant conservation measure which assists in the protection and recovery of the Jefferson Salamander population in Canada.

About Conservation Halton Awards

The Conservation Halton Awards annually recognize environmental heroes in our watershed who have worked hard to protect, preserve, or enhance our environment. This year’s awards will be presented on Tuesday, June 23 in the evening at the Milton Centre for the Arts.

If you know a Conservation Hero, you can nominate them for a Conservation Halton Award by clicking here. No act of green is too small … or too big! The Awards deadline is May 15, 2015 and the categories are:

  • Citizen
  • Citizen (Youth)
  • Community
  • Corporate
  • Education (Individual)
  • Education (Group or School)
  • Media / Blogger
  • Stewardship

Jefferson Salamander

About the Jefferson Salamander

In Canada, the Jefferson Salamander is found in Southern Ontario in select areas of deciduous forest, mostly along the Niagara Escarpment. Forested areas in Burlington provide the necessary breeding habitat required by this species.

Jefferson Salamanders spend the winter underground. As the weather warms up and the spring rains begin, the salamanders emerge and migrate to breed in temporary ponds formed by run-off, laying their eggs in clumps attached to underwater vegetation. By late summer, the larvae lose their gills and leave the pond to head into the surrounding forests.



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