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Vernal Pool Survey Project Update 2002
Despite drought conditions, 2002 was a very productive year for the Vernal Pool Survey Project. Here are some of the highlights of this year's efforts:
- Rutgers Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA), which is currently under contract to identify potential vernal pools for survey, has identified 12,044 potential vernal pools throughout New Jersey (Skylands: 3148, Piedmont: 2043, Coastal Plain: 6853). Of the 397 potential pools that were groundtruthed by ENSP this year, 325 (82%) were determined to be vernal pools.
- ENSP trained 126 volunteers on the identification of vernal pool herpetofauna and data collection methods. As of November 2002, ENSP staff and volunteers have collected data on approximately 300 vernal pools, which increased the number of certified vernal pools (vernal pools that can be afforded regulatory protection based on documentation of certain herps) from 150 to 341.
- ENSP developed a comprehensive GIS coverage of potential and certified vernal pools linked to a database containing information on species observed, biological characteristics of pools, geographic location, and sources of data. This coverage/data has been provided to the Land Use Regulation Program for reviews of wetland permit applications and letters of interpretation.
- In addition to the identification of 12,044 potential vernal pools, Rutgers CRSSA developed an interactive website featuring downloadable aerial photographs with potential vernal pool data layers. This mapping has proven to be a valuable tool for volunteers attempting to locate vernal pools for surveys. Go to www.dbcrssa.rutgers.edu/ims/vernal for more information.
Spring 2003 - A Call for Vernal Pool Volunteers
This coming March, the Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) will hold our second set of vernal pool training seminars, which will include both a lecture covering vernal pool ecology, protection, and species identification, as well as a field trip to a vernal pool to demonstrate survey techniques. At each training, volunteers can select a survey area, which can be either specific pools or tracts of land containing complexes of pools. ENSP staff will provide maps of selected areas, data collection sheets and a variety of educational materials to help you locate the pool and identify the various amphibians and reptiles you may encounter. Survey efforts will be focused between February and June, which is when amphibian activity at vernal pools is at its peak.
Because the protection of vernal pools depends upon the documentation of certain amphibians and reptiles, we encourage anyone who cares about wildlife and these sensitive, biologically rich wetland habitats to become a volunteer. The ENSP can't do it alone! Please stay tuned to this web page to see when and where this year's seminars will take place.