Save the Salamanders!

The Long Branch and Gulf Branch nature centers need volunteers to help protect migrating amphibians this spring.

Illustration by Paul Hostetler

It’s nine inches long and covered with bright yellow spots, and you definitely don’t want to run it over. Fortunately, Arlington’s Salamander Patrol is ready to help by stopping any driver who’s about to squash a spotted salamander.

Arlington County naturalist Jennifer Soles dreamed up the idea for the patrol five years ago. She was working at Long Branch Nature Center on a rainy spring night when suddenly a parade of amphibians—including salamanders, wood frogs and spring peepers—began crossing the driveway, en masse, and heading for a nearby pond where they lay their eggs, just as drivers were trying to leave after an evening program. “I was running around with a flashlight,” Soles remembers, “saying, ‘Stop! Let me move this salamander!’ ”

Today, volunteer patrol members can sign up for evening shifts at Long Branch (as well as Gulf Branch Nature Center, which also has a pond close to its driveway) during the last week of February and the first week of March, when steady rains can trigger amphibians to make a run for the water. If a mass migration happens, the volunteers stop cars, shine their flashlights on the road and move the salamanders and frogs to safety. For details, visit

Categories: Community