Snake Road to close for fall migration

By Brandi Courtois, News Editor

To help ensure safe migration for snakes and amphibians, the Shawnee National Forest will be temporarily closing Forest Service Road 345.

The fall closure, which takes place from Sept. 1 to Oct. 30, is part of a biannual closure.

The closure is designed to help snakes and amphibians migrate from their summer habitat in the LaRue Swamp to their winter habitat in the limestone bluffs, according to a release from Shawnee National Forest.

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During the migration about 66 percent of the amphibians and 59 percent of the reptiles known to occur in Illinois are found along this route, according to the release.

Special regulations apply to the area, the release said. Unauthorized collecting and handling of any of these species is prohibited under federal and state law. Handling includes gathering, herding, harassing or possessing snake species.

LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond became a federally designated Research Natural Area in 1991. According to the U.S. Forest Service, RNA’s are permanently protected to maintain biological diversity and to provide places for research and monitoring of natural communities.

(See more: Snakes slither across Southern Illinois)

In the article, “Sightseers slither into southern Illinois for Snake Road”, published on Sept. 27, 2017 by the Daily Egyptian, Scott Ballard said Snake Road was first closed to vehicular traffic in 1972.

Ballard, a herpetologist for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said the dates used to be random, but when he finished his master’s thesis at SIU in 1987 he recommended the road be closed for two months each spring and fall.

(See more: Sightseers slither into southern Illinois for Snake Road)

At the time Ballard said Snake Road is now the only place in the country where a road is closed off to protect migrating herptiles.

News Editor Brandi Courtois can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Brandi_Courtois.

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