Bi-annually, the Shawnee National Forest closes Forest Service Road No. 345, also known as Snake Road, to help ensure safe crossing for several species of snakes and amphibians during their critical time of migration.
The 2.5-mile-long road is closed now through Oct. 30 to allow snakes and amphibians -- some of them considered threatened and endangered in Illinois and the United States -- to migrate from their summer habitat in the LaRue Swamp across the road to their winter habitat in the limestone bluffs.
The gradual, two-month migration event attracts people from across the country 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.
Though the road is closed to vehicles, it is open to people traveling on foot.
Special regulations apply to the area.
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.
For more information about the reptile and amphibian migration and LaRue-Pine Hills Research National Area, visitwww.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3833915.pdf