CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), in collaboration with the State Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) and the United States Geological Survey Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (USGS ARMI), is excited to announce a series of Vernal Pool Monitoring Workshops set to take place across the state in 2024. These workshops aim to educate participants about the vital role of vernal pools in local ecosystems and train them in monitoring techniques to support amphibian conservation efforts.
Vernal pools are temporary wetlands that form in the winter and early spring and serve as crucial breeding grounds for various amphibian species, including wood frogs, spring peepers, and several types of salamanders. These habitats are free from fish and other aquatic predators, offering a safe haven for these species to reproduce.
The workshop series will feature expert-led presentations on amphibian biology, wetland ecology, and the specific dynamics of vernal pools. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning through visits to nearby vernal pools, where they will practice identifying amphibian egg masses, adult amphibians, and, for frog species, their unique calls.
Scheduled locations for the 2024 workshops include the Fort Mill Ridge Wildlife Management Area, the WV Botanic Garden, Kanawha State Forest, New River Gorge National Park, and a privately-owned site along the Greenbrier River in Pocahontas County, in partnership with the Greenbrier River Watershed Association. These workshops are made possible thanks to the generous cooperation of these hosting sites.
Participants are encouraged to apply their new skills by conducting monitoring surveys in vernal pools within their communities and submitting their findings to the WVDEP's vernal pool network. This citizen science initiative is crucial for gathering data to enhance our understanding of amphibian populations and the health of these unique ecosystems across West Virginia.