LEWISTON – Many are fascinated by the return of the frogs to ponds, lakes and wetlands in Maine.

The chorus of spring peepers is a welcome sound in May.

However, the environmental health of the ponds and lakes for amphibians is of concern to ecologists, who need to make habitat management decisions.

In order to make wise management choices for Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary, the Stanton Bird Club Stewardship Committee is conducting a long-term study of the vernal pools at Thorncrag on Montello Street.

The spring pools support breeding populations of salamanders and frogs. This year four teams of volunteers are monitoring five pools to record the presence of three particular species – wood frogs, blue-spotted salamanders and fairy shrimp.

Bates College senior Hillary Schwab is coordinating with the volunteers to set up a database and provide scientific equipment to measure the temperature, pH and size of the pools. Several years of data will help the stewards understand how to protect the watershed of the pools and manage the forest surrounding each pool.

The fragile nature of the pools during breeding season is only one of the reasons the Stanton Bird Club requires all dogs to be on a leash while walking at the sanctuary.

Dogs love to splash in the water, but amphibian egg masses are delicate and easily destroyed.

The public is invited to share in the discovery of what can be found in the vernal pools. As part of the Thorncrag Nature Festival on Saturday, May 15, there will be a demonstration and hands-on activities at one of the pools from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Meet at the main gate on Montello Street.

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