Project Background

In 2007, DRWA received an award from the Deerfield River Enhancement Fund to develop workshops to teach volunteers how to certify vernal pools in the Massachusetts portion of the watershed. The project grew out of concern that few pools were certified in the watershed.

spoted salamander egg masses Spotted salamander egg mass

Before 2007, of the 20 towns located entirely or partially within the Massachusetts portion of the watershed, 12 had no certified vernal pools. Of the 23 certified, 15 pools were located in just two towns.

Vernal pools have characteristics that increase their vulnerability to destruction and degradation: pools are usually small, the vegetation within and adjacent to the pool may not differ significantly from the surrounding landscape, and pools usually dry up during the summer.

Newly emerged wood frog
wood frog

Throughout the watershed, vernal pools and their plant and animal communities are threatened by outright destruction (e.g., the basin is destroyed during construction, forestry, and/or agricultural activities) and activities that decrease their value to wildlife and plants, such as pollution from road runoff, agricultural and lawn chemicals, acidification, and water withdrawals. Frogs and salamanders are killed by roadway traffic when traveling to and from breeding pools or traveling between pools. Several state-listed species are dependent on these habitats as well, including Jefferson salamander, water shrew, intricate fairy shrimp, and others.

volunteers explore vernal pool