Tunnel touted for tiny toadlets in the hills above Chilliwack

There's province-wide concern about declining amphibian species in areas where development is spring up around wetlands

A new amphibian tunnel completed in June in the hills above Chilliwack should help reduce mortalities of toads and frogs during mass migrations.

There’s a spot on Elk View Road where tiny toadlets no bigger than a dime were getting crushed by vehicles as they tried to migrate across the road.

A new amphibian tunnel completed in June in the hills above Chilliwack should help.

“One of the really neat aspects is this is a solution that other communities can implement as well,” said Joanne Neilson, executive director of Fraser Valley Conservancy.

There’s province-wide concern about declining amphibian species in areas where development is spring up around wetlands, so the tunnel structure is being touted as a potential model for others to follow to reduce mortalities.

B.C. communities might one day look at culvert replacement in a more toad-friendly way.

Last month special fencing was used to guide the toads and frogs through the newly built culvert for the first time.

FVC officials, and project partners are now getting ready to cut the ribbon on the collaborative project at Ryder Lake Hall, at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 8.

Western toads, along with other species like Red-legged frogs, Pacific Chorus frogs, Long-toed salamanders, Northwestern salamanders, and Roughskin newts have all been spotted trying to cross the roads. The counts and hotspots for various amphibian migrations were obtained through research by volunteers and staff.

Nighttime road surveys of amphibians helped them find migration corridors so they’d know exactly where to place the new crossing structure, which was installed on Elk View Road near Ryder Lake Road.

The toadlets typically migrate en masse back to the forested areas from the breeding areas shortly after leaving the tadpole stage. In past the FVC obtained road closures with the help of City of Chilliwack, to allow for unimpeded crossings and to reduce mortalities.

At one point they tried to scoop up the toadlets in buckets to help them survive the mass migrations across local roads.

The new amphibian tunnel was undertaken by Fraser Valley Conservancy, in partnership with Lafarge Canada and Environment Canada, as well as volunteers and others partners.

The tunnel is part of the Ryder Lake Amphibian Project, and the crossing structure is geared to protecting the toads, as well as other area amphibians.

To celebrate completion of the amphibian crossing structure, a Chilliwack Toad Fest, is set for Aug. 8, at Ryder Lake Hall from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with displays, games, food, refreshments, and activities. They’re also holding a wildlife walk, and scavenger hunt at 1 p.m.

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