The Northeast Kingdom is nestled in the Northeast corner of the state of Vermont. Characterized by undeveloped stretches of wilderness, this region is where Northern hardwoods meet the southern reaches of the boreal forests. This area is known as the Transitional Conifer-Hardwood ecosystem and contains a mosaic of wetlands and forest habitat types, such as vernal pools . This ecosystem is home to many wildlife species such as moose, black bear, deer, loons, ruffed grouse, snowshoe hare, and charismatic reptile and amphibian species, including the Wood Turtle and Mink Frog.

 
 
 

 

At first glance, the Northeastern United States may appear void of any significant amounts of reptile and amphibians, however, upon closer examination, these landscapes are chalked full of unique and fascinating species. One such species is the charismatic Wood Turtle. The bright orange or red extremities, alongside the welcoming disposition, make the Wood Turtle a perfect candidate as the flagship species of the Great Northern Forests Initiative. The Wood Turtle requires the use of both healthy river systems and upland riparian habitats. This life history poses a unique set of challenges when developing conservation strategies. By conserving the Wood Turtle, we are also protecting a number of other species that utilize this same habitat.

Additional efforts are focused on vernal pools and the amphibians that rely on them for survival. Vernal pools are extremely important for amphibians and are where adults go to breed and where their young develop. These temporary wetlands are dry for a portion of the year, causing them to be devoid of fish that would otherwise prey on these amphibians. Unfortunately, these vital, temporary wetlands are sensitive ecosystems that are often overlooked and forgotten throughout many environmental protection regulations.

 

There is a long history of human development within the Great Northern Forests (GNF). To this day, it is a global supplier of wood for the lumber and paper industry, rural, residential development continues to increase and deforestation and agriculture are exhilarating stream erosion, however, the region remains wild – but as the human population grows, we must ask ourselves, for how long?

The Orianne Society quickly recognized the growing pressures throughout this region and in response developed the GNF Initiative. It is through this Initiative that we are working to keep this region wild and to conserve the reptile and amphibian species that call this area home. In order to accomplish our mission, we have focused on three main priorities including Wood Turtles vernal pools and the Transitional Conifer-Hardwood ecosystem in the Northeast Kingdom.

We have prepared datasheets for the information we desire from your observations and are also including an identification sheet for each species. One data sheet should be used for each observation. For example, if you heard wood frogs on one date, that is one observation. If you see tadpoles the next time you visit the wetland, you would use a separate data sheet. We request a photograph for each observation so that we can confirm identification.

Encountering Wood Frogs and Spotted Salamanders (or evidence of these species) in the field is always exciting. Rolling a pond-side log to see the bright orange spots of a plump Spotted Salamander, or hearing the duck-like chuckling sounds of a sizable Wood Frog chorus, are always memorable natural history experiences. With this study, you can make your observations count toward a scientific review of these species’ breeding patterns. This will benefit our knowledge of these animals and also provide you an opportunity to better acquaint yourself with the amphibian life in your own backyard while doing your part for conservation. Consider participating in Snapshots in Time—it will be a great experience for all ages!

Participation is easy! See the range maps below to determine if these species occur in your area. Visit wetland areas when breeding occurs. Submit your data. It’s that easy! Be sure to get in touch with us with any questions you have about this project, and be sure to tell your friends about Snapshots in Time!

The Northeast Kingdom is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, filled with lush forest lands, mountain bogs and cold water streams. But even though it is one of the most undisturbed regions in Northern New England and relatively undeveloped, it is still subjected to fragmentation from roads, deforestation, and agriculture.

We are working to keep the Transitional Conifer-Hardwood ecosystem, which covers the Northeast Kingdom, functioning properly to support the vast array of wildlife that resides there. We are working to identify priority areas for land conservation within the Northeast Kingdom to begin developing a network of protected properties where we will work to restore riparian areas and upland forests.


 

 

RELATED INFORMATION

Great Northern Forests

The Great Northern Forests are one of the last wild places in the Northeastern United States where Northern hardwoods meet boreal forests.

Wood Turtle

Wood Turtles are a globally-endangered turtle primarily distributed in Northeastern North America that depend on healthy rivers and uplands for survival.

Vernal Pools

Vernal pools are extremely important temporary wetlands for amphibians and are where adults go to breed and where their young develop.