Amphibian Conservation with NBNC

Our ARC Program is an ideal activity for engaging in nature in a socially-distanced fashion. Instead of our in-person training this year, we've made available all the resources needed to get started on your own!
Most of our survey transects are 1/2 mile long on quiet dirt roads. Many volunteers consider their ARC surveys a way to exercise in the fresh air while supporting conservation science. That said, please use your best judgement if you choose to participate in this project. Recommendations are changing daily. It is your responsibility to interpret our governor's directives surrounding sheltering, distancing, and transportation. Here are some important safety considerations:
  • Be extremely cautious of traffic. Wear bright, reflective clothing. Use bright flashlights. Step far off the roadway as soon as you see headlights, and watch for traffic constantly.
  • If you visit a site with other groups present, give them plenty of space, or go elsewhere.
  • Avoid sites that are far from your home. Driving entails a heightened risk right now.
  • Wash your hands before touching amphibians, and only handle animals that aren't moving off the roadway on their own.

To Get Involved

  1. Check out our 2020 Volunteer Manual and Protocols
  2. Watch our ARC Training Videos, especially parts 1 and 4.
  3. Contact us with questions
  4. Join by clicking "sign up to be an Amphibian Crossing Guard."
  5. Pick a survey site, and go help our amphibians!

Returning Volunteers

We've made some important changes to the protocols this year. Please be sure to read the 2020 manual before you start your surveys this year.

Why did the salamander cross the road? To get to the vernal pool! For thousands of years, amphibians have migrated from their upland wintering habitats to lowland wetlands to breed every spring. After wintering deep underground or in a frozen state of torpor, amphibians emerge on warm, wet nights in early spring to begin their march to breeding grounds, often crossing our busy roadways at great peril. Since NBNC began monitoring road crossings in 2005, volunteer crossing guards have helped save thousands of amphibians while providing important information to conservation science and natural resource planners.

The data submitted by our volunteers supports the work of our partners at the Vermont Reptile & Amphibian Atlas, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. Our findings are also made available to city and town planners and conservation commissions to aid in transportation planning at the local level. As ARC grows, we are cultivating conversations with other amphibian conservation organizations to unify methodologies and expand the regional relevance of all local amphibian conservation work.

How it works

  1. Volunteers visit known or suspected amphibian migration sites on warm, rainy nights in March-May.
  2. Volunteers record weather, species, and amphibian data using our online form while escorting amphibians safely across the road.
  3. The data is used by NBNC and partners to understand amphibian movement, prioritize road crossing sites in our communities, and influence road improvement projects.

Other Ways to Help Amphibians with NBNC

NBNC works with volunteers to protect Vermont amphibians in other ways:

Informational Community Trainings: NBNC gives amphibian ecology  presentations and road rescue trainings in the form of indoor, evening workshops. Since 2005, NBNC has offered these programs in over 50 locations across Vermont and has trained over 400 residents in amphibian identification, data collection, and rescue protocols. NBNC also offers “pop-up” public programs at known crossing sites to train volunteers and welcome visitors in the field. Email us to set up a training.

Vernal Pool Monitoring: NBNC partners with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies to identify and monitor vernal pools (ephemeral wetlands that are critical breeding and nursery grounds to many amphibian species). These remote sites require regular spring monitoring by dedicated volunteers. NBNC seeks volunteers, students, and teachers to participate in the VCE Vernal Pool Monitoring Program.


Amphibian Road Crossing Resources

  • 2020 volunteer manual and protocols

  • Amphibian crossing map

  • Online data entry portal

  • Printable data form

  • Photo submission portal

  • Risk release waiver form

ARC Training Videos

  • Part 1 - Introduction

  • Part 2 - Amphibian Ecology

  • Part 3 - Species Profiles

  • Part 4 - Protocols & Methods

  • Q&A Webinar - March 30 2020


Yes! This is actually extremely important, as it tells us whether prospective sites are active or inactive, and how many volunteers are participating.

No! Each survey is a one-way transect, so each team should be submitting at least two surveys: one for the way out, and one for the way back. You're welcome to do as many passes as you'd like, but please do not submit multiple surveys on the same data form.

Ideally, no. All dead amphibians should be moved off the road so they aren't counted twice. Any amphibian that isn't moving itself off the roadway should be moved. This saves them from car tires, and prevents double-counting.

Any amphibian you're not sure of, you can take a photo and submit it to our Photo Submission Portal on this website. Make a note in the "additional comments" section of the data form.

Our volunteers live at very different elevations and locations around the state, so the best forecast will be one you make on your own. Remember this mantra: amphibians move when it is above 40 degrees, raining, dark, and between March and early May. If those factors aren't all met, chances of amphibian movement are slim (but not impossible). 

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206
[email protected]

Office Open Monday-Friday from 9 am to 4 pm
Trails Open 24/7