THINK SPRING with Vernal Pools!

Wood frog egg mass in a Keene vernal pool (photo: Brett Amy Thelen)Every spring, small depressions in the northern forest floor come alive, filling with rain, melting snow, and, eventually, salamander and frog eggs. By summer’s end, many of these vernal pools will have dried out, revealing little trace of the life they contained in April.

Learn more about the exquisite, ephemeral world of vernal pools by participating in a citizen science project, hike, or workshop with the Harris Center this spring!  For more details on these exciting opportunities to THINK SPRING, please see our calendar of events or read on. 


Vernal Pool Project Volunteer Trainings on April 16, 17, and 19

John Patterson documents a Peterborough vernal pool in style. (photo: Lynne Lyptay)

Vernal pools are small, temporary woodland ponds that serve as critical amphibian breeding habitat and important feeding grounds and shelter for many reptiles, birds, and mammals. In efforts to protect these vital (yet often overlooked) ecosystems, we are training volunteers to identify and document vernal pools, with special focus on lands where information is needed for conservation planning.

We’ll cover the building blocks of vernal pool ecology in indoor training sessions on Wednesday, April 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. in Peterborough (Town House) and Thursday, April 17 from 7 to 9 p.m. in Keene (Room 126 of the Putnam Science Center at Keene State College). Then, we’ll venture outside for hands-on instruction in vernal pool identification and documentation at local field sites on Saturday, April 19 from 10 a.m. to noon in Keene and from 3 to 5 p.m. in Peterborough. Interested volunteers must attend one indoor and one outdoor training session (in either Peterborough or Keene) to participate. Trainings are free and open to the public, but registration is requiredFor more information or to register, contact Brett Amy Thelen at or (603) 358-2065.

Cosponsored with the Peterborough Conservation Commission, the Monadnock Conservancy, and Keene State College, with generous support from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.


April at the Horatio Colony Preserve vernal pool. (photo: Russ Cobb)

Vernal Pool Hike at Horatio Colony Preserve on April 23

Join Brett Amy Thelen for a moderately-strenuous, 1.2-mile roundtrip hike to a hilltop vernal pool at the Horatio Colony Nature Preserve in Keene, where we’ll explore the exquisite, ephemeral world of spring-breeding amphibians.

Wednesday, April 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Horatio Colony Nature Preserve in Keene. Meet at the Preserve parking lot on Daniels Hill Road at 1 p.m.  Cosponsored with the Horatio Colony Nature Preserve.


Vernal Pool Workshop for Landowners and Foresters on May 2

Spotted salamander egg masses.
(photo: Brett Amy Thelen)

Because they are small and seasonal, vernal pools are especially vulnerable to human impacts, but finding a vernal pool on your land doesn’t mean it’s off-limits for forestry!  Join Jeremy Wilson and Brett Amy Thelen for a workshop on forest management with vernal pools in mind. We’ll begin indoors with an illustrated talk on vernal pool ecology and best forestry practices for vernal pool protection, then head outside for a closer look at a vernal pool in spring bloom. 1.5 Category 1 SAF CFE credits are available.

Friday, May 2 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Harris Center.  This event is made possible by generous support from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

For more information about any of these events, please contact Brett Amy Thelen at or (603) 358-2065.