Forest Service notes closing of Snake Road
The Shawnee National Forest’s Snake Road in Union County was scheduled to close on Sept. 1 for a fall snake and amphibian migration.
The U.S. Forest Service announced that the road would be closed so that snakes and amphibians can migrate from LaRue Swamp to nearby limestone bluffs.
Some of the snakes and amphibians are threatened and endangered species.
The Forest Service noted in a news release that closing the 2.5-mile-long road, also known as LaRue Road and Forest Service Road No. 345, helps ensure safe crossing for these rare species.
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 here.
Some of the many creatures which can be found in the LaRue Swamp area include the black rat snake, the cave salamander, the cottonmouth snake, the copperhead snake and the timber rattlesnake.
“Snakes and amphibians migrate to the bluffs, where they hibernate for the winter,” said Chad Deaton, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service/Shawnee National Forest.
“Cottonmouths are the most common snake that can be seen during this migration.”
Snake Road will be closed between mile post 3.0 and mile post 5.8. The road will remain closed until Oct. 30. Though the road is closed to vehicles, it is open to people who travel on foot.
Although foot traffic is welcome, the Forest Service advises visitors that LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond is a federally designated Research Natural Area and unauthorized collecting and handling of any of these species is prohibited under federal and state law.
To reach Snake Road from Jonesboro: Take Highway 146 west 8 miles to Highway 3; then go north 8 miles on Highway 3 to Muddy Levee Road. Then go east 3 miles to LaRue Road, at the “T” turn right into Winters Pond parking lot. The road also can be reached from the south entrance off of LaRue Road (some people like to walk from here north and turn around part way).
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.