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Salamander crossing established at Marquette's Presque Isle Park


MARQUETTE, MI--   The City of Marquette is closing off a quarter-mile portion of Presque Isle Park roadway to vehicles over the next month to save lives.

Salamander lives, that is.

The blue-spotted salamander is a four- to five-inch-long amphibian that has a black body with vivid blue spots. Thousands of them hibernate underground on the Island during the winter, but when nights turn warm and it begins to rain they come out and migrate to wetlands to reproduce.

Tyler Penrod is a Great Lakes Conservation Corps Program Manager. He says in 2019 a student researcher from NMU discovered hundreds of salamanders were killed at the park that year by vehicles. In 2020 that number was dramatically reduced when the Superior Watershed Partnership began to work with the city and vehicle access to the migration route was prohibited.

“This partnership that the Superior Watershed Partnership has with the City of Marquette has been really successful at reducing the number of salamander deaths from 400 to just three. So we’re really thankful for the Marquette community coming together to protect these little guys,” he says. 

Vehicles are barred from the salamanders’ route from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. through April 15.

Penrod says at peak migration you can see hundreds to thousands of them crossing the road to their pool. He advises look, but don’t touch.

Nicole was born near Detroit but has lived in the U.P. most of her life. She graduated from Marquette Senior High School and attended Michigan State and Northern Michigan Universities, graduating from NMU in 1993 with a degree in English.