Shawnee Forest Snake Road closed for fall migration
The Shawnee National Forest’s Snake Road in Union County was scheduled to close Sept. 1 to allow for the migration of snakes and amphibians from LaRue Swamp to nearby limestone bluffs.
Closing the 2.5-mile-long road, also known as LaRue Road and Forest Service Road No. 345, helps to ensure a safe crossing for these rare species, some of which are considered threatened and endangered in Illinois and the United States.
The two-month gradual migration event attracts visitors from across the country who are eager to witness the rich diversity of reptile and amphibian species along this stretch of road.
About 66 percent of the amphibians and 59 percent of the reptiles known to occur in Illinois are found in the area.
The migration primarily occurs as species are preparing for winter hibernation.
Cottonmouth snakes are the most common snakes that can be seen during the migration.
The U.S. Forest Service noted that Snake Road will be closed between mile post 3.0 and mile post 5.8.
The road is scheduled to remain closed until Oct. 30. The road is closed to vehicles, but people can still travel on the road by foot.
The Forest Service also noted that visitors should be aware that LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond is a federally designated research natural area and the unauthorized collecting and handling of any of the species at the site is prohibited under federal and state law.
For more information about the species found in the area, directions to the road and/or the LaRue-Pine Hills Ecological Area, contact the Shawnee National Forest office in Jonesboro at 833-8576 or visit the Shawnee National Forest’s website at www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee.