Annual Snake Road spring migration closing scheduled
The U.S. Forest Service reports that the Shawnee National Forest’s Snake Road in Union County is scheduled to close on March 15.
The road will be closing so that snakes and amphibians, some of which are considered threatened and endangered in Illinois and the United States, can migrate from limestone bluffs to nearby LaRue Swamp.
Closing the 2.5-mile-long road, also known as LaRue Road and Forest Service Road No. 345, helps to ensure safe crossing for these rare species, the Forest Service reported in a news release.
The Forest Service noted that the gradual, two-month migration event attracts people from across the country who are eager to witness the rich diversity of reptile and amphibian species along this single stretch of road.
About 66 percent of the amphibians and 59 percent of the reptiles known to occur in Illinois are found in the LaRue Swamp area, which is located in the western part of Union County.
“Snakes and amphibians migrate to the bluffs where they hibernate for the winter,” said Paul Widowski, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service/Shawnee National Forest.
Snake Road will be closed between mile post 3.0 and mile post 5.8.
The road is scheduled to remain closed until May 15. Though the road is closed to vehicles, it is open to people traveling on foot.
Although foot traffic is welcome, the Forest Service advises that LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond is a federally designated research natural area and unauthorized collecting and handling of species is prohibited under federal and state law.
For more information about the snake migration and/or the LaRue-Pine Hills Ecological Area, contact the Shawnee National Forest office in Jonesboro at 833-8576.