This Road in the U.P. Closes Annually For Salamander Migration
It's that time of the year again! Each spring a stretch of road in Michigan's upper peninsula closes to ensure safe passage of its migrating blue-spotted salamander population. Today, March 28, marks the annual closure of Peter White Drive in Marquette's Presque Isle Park.
Peter White Drive will be closed daily from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. to vehicular traffic now through April 15, 2022, or until officials declare the migration complete. During these hours only foot traffic is permitted inside the public park.
Michigan is home to ten different species of salamanders including the eastern newt and the small-mouthed salamander, and although the blue-spotted salamander is not endangered it is important to protect them as, "salamanders are important environmental indicators due to their sensitivity to chemicals and pollution." according to the Michigan DNR.
This will only be the third year in a row that Peter White Drive has closed to vehicular traffic due to salamander migration. In previous years a former Northern Michigan University student noticed an alarming amount of blue-spotted salamanders being crushed as they attempted to travel across the road to reach their breeding ponds. 2020 was the first year city officials closed the road during the migration season.
According to the Herpetological Resource and Management firm of Michigan, the blue-spotted salamander is quite common and, "Most abundant in moist woodlands with sandy soils, but can also be found in open fields and backyards in suburban areas."
Often confused with the small-mouthed salamander, the blue-spotted salamander is known for its, "Black or grayish overall [color] with bluish spots and flecks on the sides, legs, belly, and tail, and sometimes on back."