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Shawnee National Forest to Close Snake Road for Fall Migration

WOLF LAKE, IL — Bi-annually the Shawnee National Forest closes Forest Service Road No. 345, also known as Snake Road, to help ensure safe crossing for several species of snakes and amphibians during their critical time of migration.

The 2.5-mile-long road closes the week of September 1 through October 30 to allow snakes and amphibians to migrate from their summer habitat in the LaRue Swamp across the road to their winter habitat in the limestone bluffs. Though the road is closed to vehicles, it is open to people traveling on foot.

According to Forest Service wildlife biologist, Mark Vukovich, “The road closure is very important in maintaining the healthy population that exists there. Three species are listed as threatened in the state of Illinois.”

The gradual, two-month migration is event attracts people from across the country eager to witness the rich diversity of reptile and amphibian species along this single stretch of road. About 57 percent of the amphibians and 56 percent of the reptiles known to occur in Illinois are found here.

Snake Road is located within the federally designated LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond Research Natural Area. The following special regulations apply on Snake Road and the entire Research Natural Area throughout the year:

• Unauthorized collecting and handling of any animal species is prohibited.
• No collecting of any kind; Including plants or animals.
• No tongs, hooks, bags or containers of any kind.

To further protect the animals and their habitats visitors should also:
• Stay on Snake Road and do not create trails.
• Don’t damage vegetation or pick wildflowers.
• Don’t move rocks or logs.
• Do not harass or corral wildlife – Watch nature from a distance.
• Pack out their garbage and dispose of it off national forest land.

“We want people to care enough to protect the area and share it responsibly, knowing that their actions make a difference,” says Vukovich.

For more information about the reptile and amphibian migration and LaRue-Pine Hills Research National Area click on the Brochures and Site Maps link found at www.fs.usda.gov/main/shawnee/maps-pubs. For the latest on the closure and other up-to-date information join us on Facebook or Twitter.