Students At Maryland's Great Mills High School Build Salamander Fence

June 11, 2013

Fence will deter ATVs and other vehicles from traversing a pond that destroyed thousands of spotted salamander eggs in March.

Photo by Tom Tyning, U.S Department of Transportation

All terrain vehicle riders destroyed thousands of spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) eggs when they traversed a vernal pond in southern Maryland last March, and when local high school teacher Allen Skinner was made aware of what happened, he put his 10th grade students to work on a solution, according to a report in the Southern Maryland News.


Spotted salamander

Photo by Tom Tyning, U.S Department of Transportation

Spotted Salamander

The students, 10th graders at Great Mills High School's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics academy submitted 12 plans to prevent ATVs and other vehicles from driving into the vernal pond. The plans ranged from laying down spike strips near the area of the pond to burying lumber planks into the ground so they stick up in various directions to block access. Ultimately, a panel of environmental experts including several naturalists, a committee of school system employees, and a college biology professor chose the idea of constructing a brightly painted fence around the pond in hopes the off road riders would avoid riding through. Each plan had a budget of $250 or less, and the money to build the fence will come from the school's engineering club fund. The students will also volunteer their time to install the fence.


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Care and Breeding for the Spotted Salamander


The pond is located near an old farm road that goes through the Elms woods on education property. The paper reported that school officials have put up wooden posts and laid heavy logs across the old entrance to the road, but the off road riders just go around those obstacles. Off road riding is not legal on the property, which is used by visiting first-grade classes to study the amphibians.

The spotted salamander can be found throughout the eastern United States, southern Georgia and Texas and Canada. It grows to about 7 to 9 inches in length and though not an endangered species, it is protected in certain areas in its range.


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