Archive for Tuesday, February 28, 2006

March of the Salamanders’ gathers human help

Amphibians can cross the road to procreate, with coalition’s aid

February 28, 2006


Douglas County's salamanders will get their own crossing guards.

The Save the Wakarusa Wetlands coalition is rounding up volunteers to help the small creatures cross 31st Street, the busy roadway that separates them from their breeding grounds.

"We know that we're not going to save all of them," said Kelly Barth, a freelance writer who plans to help the salamanders. "The ones that we do save - it will be important to them."

The volunteers hope to save the animals, one specimen at a time. Their work will help the amphibians, but it also is a way to stand up for the wildlife threatened by growth, said Michael Caron, executive director of the wetlands coalition and organizer of the First Annual Amphibians Rescue Night.

A proposed stretch of the South Lawrence Trafficway would run through the Baker Wetlands, the salamanders' home.

Smallmouth salamanders - named for their short heads and tiny mouths - live in the moisture-rich refuge of the wetlands along 31st Street between Louisiana Street and Haskell Avenue. They're not often visible by day, preferring the shelter of moist cover or the underground realm where they feast on earthworms and other things.

Each year, in the night hours when the first cool rains of approaching spring come, they take to the roadway - males first, then egg-laden females.

It can be quite a sight, said Ginny Weatherman, a Kansas University student who loves the salamanders and has worked to help them.

"If you look at a salamander, they look like they're always smiling at you," she said. "And they can't bite you."

According to Joseph Collins, an expert on these matters, the creatures pick rainy night hours for their crossing because few of their predators - raccoons or other mammals or garter snakes - are inclined to venture out to get them.



The smallmouth salamanders aren't alone. American toads and Plains Leopard frogs have been known to bounce along the roadside nearby.

All are potential victims of unheeding motorists.

"They're being slaughtered," said Collins, adjunct herpetologist with the Kansas Biological Survey at KU.

The roadway after a busy night can be littered by the flattened creatures.

"It looks like road pizza," Collins said.

But those that make it across go on to procreate. The eggs are fertilized. And eventually, baby salamanders - the length of a pinkie finger - emerge.

Then the salamanders catch another rainstorm and head back across the roadway, migration completed.

For years, when there was little traffic on 31st Street, the salamanders' migration was uneventful, Collins said, but heavier traffic has made the trek more treacherous.

Related Link

Salamanders in other states have faced similar threats, and environmentalists have stepped up to help.

Collins said populations farther inside the wetlands were doing OK, but the ones near the roadside were in trouble.

"They can't keep getting run over, year after year," he said. "It's going to cut into the population."

The local group plans to meet at 7 p.m. on the next rainy night. The only thing that will stop them is lightning, ice or even the possibility of ice.

They'll wear reflective clothing and carry buckets decorated with reflective tape. And one by one, they'll pick up the little salamanders, set them in a bucket and carry them across the road.

"I'm sure they'll have a terrifying ride across the street in a bucket," Barth said. "But they won't be dead."

How to help

On the next rainy night, grab rain gear, a bucket and flashlights. Head to the main entrance to the Baker Wetlands on 31st Street between Louisiana Street and Haskell Avenue. Volunteers will help pick up the salamanders and send them in the directions they're going. The event is the "First Annual Amphibians Rescue Night." If there is lightning or icy conditions, the event will be postponed until the next rainy night. For safety, do not bring children and wear light, bright colors.

For information, contact Michael Caron at


Richard Heckler 11 years, 10 months ago

Wetlands Saves Tax Dollars: Economical and Fiscal Pollution Control Wetlands filter water for free and thus lower the need for, or the loadings into, wastewater and drinking water treatment plants. Further loss of wetlands will lead to increased need for treatment plants and clean-up strategies. Water Supply Wetlands and major retention basins, providing large quantities of clean water for municipalities. Wetland losses will lead to loss of quality water supplies, requiring costly searches for new sources of water. Flood Control Wetlands help control flooding, and thus prevent the need for costly flood control projects. A one-acre wetland holds 330,000 gallons of water if flooded to one foot. Shipping By filtering tributaries and runoff, wetlands hold back vast amounts of sediment that would fill up navigation channels, saving hundreds of millions of tax dollars in dredging costs. Property Protection By preventing flooding and by acting as wave barrier to prevent coastal erosion, wetlands prevent loss of property. Property Values By serving as scenic open space and ad visual and sound buffers, wetlands enhance a community's amenities and therefore its property values. Tourism and Recreation By producing so much wildlife and fish, by serving as scenic open space, and by protecting water quality, wetlands greatly benefit businesses based on fishing, boating, hunting, swimming, and sightseeing, including the lodging, restaurant and service sector. Food Wetlands produce much of the fish harvested by the commercial fishing and aquaculture industries, and are the only place where cranberry, wild rice and other wetland crops can be grown. Natural Resources Wetland produce most of the furbearers for the trapping industry. Forest wetlands can be an important source of timber when managed properly. Fiscal and Tax Savings By performing all the above benefits for free, wetlands save billions of tax dollars by avoiding the need for costly flood, erosion, pollution control, dredging and water supply projects. They bring in fiscal revenues by supporting the recreation, tourism, food and service industries. By enhancing residential property values, they maintain higher tax revenues.

speedykitty 11 years, 10 months ago

There should be a law against setting up such a driver's nightmare on a "dark and rainy night"!

How many crossing points will there be and are there signs to direct the little things to the right place?

Hope they can read better than the deer at their crossing signs on the highways.

cowboy 11 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

mcoan 11 years, 10 months ago

cowboy, blue73harley, wolfmn58, billyflay: Y'all are some sick mofos! What possibly could you have against some people who want to help these little animals and other wildlife? How on earth does that make them "idiots?" Staying up late in the rain to help creatures makes them heroes, not idiots.

And, like a typical Kansas redneck, the kind who have brought the once-great, moderate state such embarrassment over the last 10 years, you deny scientific evidence, even when it's overwhelming.

I pity y'all. Really. Your ignorance is just pathetic. Yet, since I'm not a redneck, I have no desire to "punch whoever taught" you to post.

neopolss 11 years, 10 months ago

31st street is a terrible place for the SLT anyway. Go further south, you'll avoid having to repave the damn thing everytime it sinks into the ground (and it will constantly).

onrywmn 11 years, 10 months ago

If you really want to save more of the salamanders, park your cars at Broken Arrow Park and walk over so you won't run over them yourselves.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 10 months ago

"I hear ya cowboy. And I would like to punch whoever taught Merrill to copy and paste. I've seen that propaganda one too many times."

How are his repetitive posts on this subject any worse than yours?

Do you dispute any of the "propaganda" in his posts?

strateup 11 years, 10 months ago

Maybe someone should inform Merrill that the Baker wetlands are not a naturally occuring wetlands. Prior to the 1960's it was just part of the Wakarusa flood plain. It was created by building levees around it. Lawrence needs the SLT, we can always build another artificial wetlands.

weterica 11 years, 10 months ago

I'm with harley! Yeah! Woooo. I don't like refuting facts with facts, but man I love saying how stupid they are! Wooo! And I love wishing I could punch people! wooo! I love America too, buddy! wooo! Too bad I don't have a motorcycle brand name as my username, or I would be extra scary! wooo! Does Yamaha work, or does it have to be pure USA? screw salamanders and volunteers! wooo! I'd like to punch them! yeah! woo! When anything sounds remotely environmentalist to me I take off my belt and wrap it around my hand, and then of course do nothing--but I would love to punch somebody! wooo! I'm a breathing stereotype! wooo! And I'm way scary! Well, I would be if I had a brand name of something that makes a lot of noise in my username. woooo!

ForThePeople 11 years, 10 months ago

The ignorance of the general population never ceases to amaze me! The saddest thing of all is that these types of issues are bigger than just the "salamanders."
When we fail to protect and take care of our earth, we are doing the same to ourselves. Human superiority is just a grand illusion!

bankboy119 11 years, 10 months ago

Wow, when I thought people really could not be any more stupid.

mcoan 11 years, 10 months ago

Weterica: You're HILARIOUS! My wife and I got a big kick out of your post. Thank you so much.

It's time we stopped allowing them to have all the fun while we're sitting back being polite and hoping for intelligent discourse. The discourse ain't gonna happen with rednecks.

If you don't like wetlands, move to the desert. At least get the heck out of one of only two Blue counties in Redneck Land and move to one of the 102 Redneck counties...

lunacydetector 11 years, 10 months ago

what about the poor mosquitoes trying to cross the road that get squashed on my windshield? where is the concern? why aren't the retreat hippies concerned about the mosquitoes having the chance to lay their eggs? where's the humanity?

lunacydetector 11 years, 10 months ago

correction: that should've been "retread" hippies.

bankboy119 11 years, 10 months ago

mccoan, how is calling everyone an ignorant Kansas redneck being intelligent? If nothing else it shows your ignorance.

badger 11 years, 10 months ago

I read this, and I can't believe no one has asked this question:

Will the crossing guards be waving at passing cars?

trinity 11 years, 10 months ago

only if they're holding balloons, badger.

i say a roundabout be installed to slow the flow of salamanders crossing the road. an itty bitty roundabout, now how cute would THAT be?? and they could have the geico gecko be there handing out free chips&pie! yeah!

ksmattfish 11 years, 10 months ago

There aren't many mosquitos in the wetlands. They are eaten by mosquito fish. Most of the mosquitos we encounter are born and bred in water collecting in man made objects such as abandoned cysterns, tires, and even disposable drinking cups left laying around.

The wetlands are such a small area of land. If you are going to be travelling at 70 mph on the SLT why can't it be routed south of the wetlands? Oh my gosh, it would add 2 minutes to your commute!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 10 months ago

Yet another example of the very serious problem you have in paying attention, OTTR.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 10 months ago

The new Tongie interchange opens up opportunities. At least 3 counties are interested in another bridge across the river. It was more or less suggested that all would be interested in a partnership. KTA would be welcome to participate as well. Because of the outside interest this will happen someday. Should Douglas County taxpayers pick up the tab? No

Why not build I-70 connectors to the Tongie interchange so that Topeka, JOCO, Leavenworth and Douglas County drivers can get around Lawrence and call it the I-70 bypass.

achtung 11 years, 10 months ago

salamander-pock-marked roads good thing i got brand new triple tread all-amphibian Goodyears on my new Ford Excessive lets establish a hunting season to control the population of these pesky creatures. Every year thousands of salamanders starve to death. And the cost of damage ocurred to innocent motorists reaches into the millions. the revenue generated from salamander hunting liscenses can be appropriated for meaningful state expenses. Like payinng Ann Coultier to come enlighten us or wait, how about fund raising for Brownback 08. Yeah Come on boys, flick on those highbeams Lets Ride!

Kodiac 11 years, 10 months ago

Hey Strateup,

I think you better do a little more research there buddy and you might want to go back just a little further than the 1960s. You don't get flora and animals native to wetlands in just 40 years. Also what do you think foodplains means? Gotta love that "artificial wetlands".

nonimbyks 11 years, 10 months ago

They better get up to Iowa too. Threre are thousands of frogs being killed every time it rains on their highways. Next thing you know, they will be out there trying to save the flies and bugs from being killed on your windshields. Have we not had enough sillyness with the wetlands that need to be drained so PROGRESS can go forward for Lawrence?

nonimbyks 11 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps a salamander bridge for them to cross over 31st St traffic.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 10 months ago

I used to keep newts. Way more fun than you would think. Fun little guys. I fed them earthworms. The little dudes would grab the worms and SHAKE them like a dog with a pull toy. I don't know why they did it. They were too stupid to understand "submission", so it didn't seem logical to me that they'd need to do that.

They got too hot in my house and died. That's one reason why the dudes in the wetlands spend so much time in the muck. They like it under 70 degrees, preferably closer to 60 in the summer and even less in the cold months.

If protecting the wetlands is "tree hugging", then being a salamander crossing guard must be "tree French kissing".

I'm a little surprised that the authorities are allowing this. I mean, these people will be crossing the street at night, not at a corner or street crossing, for the sake of salamanders. They are trading the potential loss of human life for the potential loss of caudate life. Not a rational trade, I think. Worse, many of them will likely involve their children in this dance with danger.

That having been said... I'm sort of interested in seeing some of the little guys make the mad dash. Maybe some of the Haskell students could create a little gaming enterprise by taking odds on the little dudes. "It's Slimy Sammy in the lead, followed by Snot-Master, with Mary Mucus Membrane in third..."

bankboy119 11 years, 10 months ago


Looking at the intelligence levels of these people, I don't think I will be sad if any of them would lose their lives.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 10 months ago

The worst mosquito attack of my LIFE was at Broken Arrow park during a softball game. UNREAL. Man is NOT at the top of the food chain at the intesection of Louisiana and 31st St. If there were mosquito fish in those wetlands, they would have to be MANGINO-sized by now.

Chris Tackett 11 years, 10 months ago

I don't know enough about the wetlands and whether we should build the bypass or not. (i wish we would, but i don't care if we don't).

But people, I understand it's a little weird to worry about lizards or frogs or whatever, but let these people do what they want.

If they want to go help some lizards cross the road, fine! Let them. They aren't forcing yall to do the same.

So maybe try being a little more civil and keep the name-calling and insults to yourselves.

There are plenty of blogs where you can bad-mouth environmentalists with hundreds of like-minded people.

I don't know, I guess seeing the same usernames constantly on here spewing their same bs has gotten to me.

I get that some of yall are liberals. Yeah! I get that some of yall are conservatives. Yeah!

What's the point?

warthog 11 years, 10 months ago

I'm just trying to envision the little "SALAMADER CROSSING" signs. Will there be white lines for the crossings? Are we teaching the little lizards to read so they'll know where to cross?

I'm really clueless on this one, but then I'm just one of the unbelievably stupid general public. Maybe when I grow up I can be one the knowledgable elite and become... gasp... can I dare to think it?... a salamander crossing guard...

I_Bejewel 11 years, 10 months ago

"i say a roundabout be installed to slow the flow of salamanders crossing the road. an itty bitty roundabout, now how cute would THAT be?? and they could have the geico gecko be there handing out free chips&pie! yeah!"

LOL trinity! Thank you for that. Best laugh I've had all day. That said, I sure would hate to drive down 31st and see Salamander corpses everywhere

Calliope877 11 years, 10 months ago

Posted by speedykitty (anonymous) on February 28, 2006 at 7:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"There should be a law against setting up such a driver's nightmare on a "dark and rainy night"!

How many crossing points will there be and are there signs to direct the little things to the right place?

Hope they can read better than the deer at their crossing signs on the highways."


Your post cracked me up!

When I first saw the article's title, I had an image in my head of a minature crosswalk lined with traffic gaurds.

I think it's good that they want to help the cute little guys, but it sounds like an impossible feat. They're slippery little bastards..

nonimbyks 11 years, 10 months ago

Paint them with reflective orange paint!

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 10 months ago

The sooner the wetlands are gone the sooner we can stop arguing about them. I mean, "Wetlands this, wetlands that, blah blah blah". Let's just drain 'em, pave 'em, and be done with 'em.

And while we're at it, those pesky eagles are stealing all of the good fish out of the Kaw and Clinton. Ooo, eagles are so pretty and majestic. Bullocks! Some buckshot'll deal with the problem or send 'em packin'. Let them nest on someone else's lake. I mean, fercryinoutloud!

ForThePeople 11 years, 10 months ago

OnShakedown - I hear ya about the bad-mouthing on this board. I find it difficult to take people very seriously when they are so disrespectful. It seems to be very common on the LJW boards.

Silly me, I thought these boards were created to be a method for people to exchange ideas and opinions in a constructive manner. Was I ever wrong! Really too bad we all can't "just get along".

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 10 months ago

"Silly me, I thought these boards were created to be a method for people to exchange ideas and opinions in a constructive manner. Was I ever wrong! Really too bad we all can't "just get along"."

Ha! Sucka!

cowboy 11 years, 10 months ago

I have to drive this road each day twice and watching for the deer is scary enuf without having to watch for salamander rescuers , jeez , maybe I should get some new snow tires so I dont get bogged down in salamander goo !

I have driven this road twice a day for 7 years and never seen a salamander slaughter.

Quote from J. Sal Amander " what are all of the frigging hippies doing out here with buckets , run for the hills boys "

ForThePeople 11 years, 10 months ago

You people need to get a life, maybe then you wouldn't feel so compelled to take your sadistic tendencies out on others.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 10 months ago


Call it artistic license. I think the sarcasm is clear enough, but compared to some of the "real" posts it looks tame. I suppose it could be a federal offense with the visual cues missing. Ah, the internet. Fulfilling its great promise...

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 10 months ago

"You people need to get a life, maybe then you wouldn't feel so compelled to take your sadistic tendencies out on others."

I love the internet. Porn, cheating schemes, lying, anger, insult. All with the added bonus of anonymity. The 'net brings out the best in humanity

mcoan 11 years, 10 months ago

The Baker Swamp does not perform Pollution Control. (only rain / storm water drains into the swamp)

Wrong. Stormwater is full of gasoline, benzyne, and motor oil. It's a HUGE source of pollution. Wetlands clean the crap out before it flows into the river. Such ignorance of proven science...spoken like a true uninformed Kansas Redneck.

The Baker Swamp is not a Water Supply. (Lawrence gets water from the Kansas River and Clinton Lake)

Wrong. A lot of water drains through the wetlands and into the Wakarusa, which feeds the Kaw, which provides water for Eudora, Desoto, and a bunch of towns. Once again, an ignorant Kansas Redneck shoots off his mouth without knowing a lick about the subject at hand.

The Baker Swamp does not provide Flood Control (unless you're worried about flooding the Wakarusa River).

Wrong again, Redneck Boy: Storm water backs up into it, keeping it from joining all the other storm water flowing down the Wakarusa.

The Baker Swamp has no Shipping (unless you're worried about ducks, geese, and frog traffic).

True, but Merrill's post was about wetlands in GENERAL, you ignorant Kansas Redneck. Can't you see the forest through the trees?

The Baker Swamp does not provide Property Protection

Yes it does...see the part about flood control.

The Baker Swamp does not enhance Property Values (probably decreases values in Indian Hills)

Wrong again, Redneck boy! Land near parks and outdoor recreation areas is almost always more valuable than land that is not near such features. (Damn, where on earth do you get your misinformation?)

The Baker Swamp does not provide Tourism and Recreation

WRONG, you Ignorant Kansas Redneck. I often take visitors to see it. There are several trails. I almost always see out of state license plates there. And almost always see other people there. Plus, students visit it by the busload. Get some education before you post so you don't embarrass yourself.

The Baker Swamp does not provide Food (unless you like eating frogs and snakes, and then you'll tick off some environmentalist for killing precious native wildlife)

Again, the guy was talking about wetlands in general, but how can we expect an Ignorant Kansas Redneck to see the Big Picture?

The Baker Swamp is not a Natural Resource (can you imagine the out-cry if someone started 'harvesting' furbearing animals).

Why isn't it? If it provides all of the above features and benefits to man and nature alike, it is a natural resource by definition. Would you say Clinton Lake or Lone Star Lake aren't "natural resources" because they are manmade? If so, you'd be one dumb Kansas Redneck because the professional biologists would disagree with your ignorant ass.

The Baker Swamp has no Fiscal and Tax Savings, and provides none of the benefits your post suggests.

Actually, it does. See the above.

tpatric 11 years, 10 months ago

Steamroller races on 31st street Friday night! Everyone welcome.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.