Lynne Flaccus, Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association programs manager and naturalist, will lead participants from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, April 24, on explorations of the vernal pools on the Stetser Preserve in Jefferson. Most of the upland pools on the preserve are scrub-shrub varieties that provide important habitat for forest amphibians, according to a news release from the association.

Spotted salamanders and wood frogs especially depend on seasonal vernal pools for breeding habitat, but spend the rest of the year living in surrounding forest habitats.

The preserve includes a vernal pool just off the trail that is made up of red maple and winterberry in the vegetation, and supports a variety of amphibians and insects that use the small wetland for feeding and breeding. In 2014, more than 200 salamander egg masses were counted in this one pool, in addition to numerous wood frog egg masses, according to the release. The more elusive four-toed salamander was also found hiding in the clumps of sphagnum moss with some females found wrapped around their eggs. The four-toed is a species of special concern in Maine in part because they are difficult to observe.

Those who attend can explore this pool and possibly others and search for evidence of egg masses and adults, record what is found and discuss the natural history of the found species. Knee high or hip boots are recommended, though a pair of old sneakers is fine if it is not too cold. Please don’t used insect repellent on clothes or hands as amphibians are sensitive to chemicals that spread easily from clothing and hands into the water.

This walk is part of a series of events exploring the importance of these unique wetlands sponsored by association and several area groups including Hidden Valley Nature Center, Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association, Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance and Pemaquid Watershed Association.

The preserve is maintained with funding from The First through SVCA’s Adopt-A-Preserve Program.

For more information, call the office at 586-5616, or visit sheepscot.org


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