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Don points out wood frog eggsVernal Pools

Vernal pools are almost always small (i.e., <0.1 acre), ephemeral pockets of woodland wetlands that are normally flooded during the springtime but dry up by the mid-summer months. This predictably seasonal water cycle provides close to an ideal environment for some amphibians, like wood frogs and certain species of salamanders — ideal, because these seasonally inundated pools usually stay flooded just barely long enough for newly-hatched wood frog tadpoles and salamander larvae to metamorphose in an amphibious world, but are isolated from populations of predatory fish. These life stages must all happen within the time span of a pool that is rapidly drawing down so that these amphibians, upon becoming adults, are ready to live out their lives on land. That is, until some rainy night the next springtime when the adults migrate back to the pools from which they spawned to breed furiously so that the next generation will start anew in a relatively safe aquatic environment.

vernal pool in junesame vernal pool in july

The State of Maine has recognized and acknowledged the importance of vernal pools for since about 1998, but began regulating them in late 2007. At that time, the State adopted rules that include criteria establishing some vernal pools as "Significant" wildlife habitat. As such, the presence of one or more potentially "Significant Vernal Pools" could affect the layout of proposed site development.

This is where Phillips EcoServices can help you. We provide vernal pool investigations throughout Maine. If we identify a vernal pool on your property, we then determine if it meets State criteria as a Significant Vernal Pool. If it does, then State of Maine law requires that most (but not all) proposed site development activities will be subject to a minimum setback distance away from the pool. If a vernal pool is determined to be Spotted salamander egg massesSignificant, we work with you on designing your project so that you can achieve your goals while conserving valuable vernal pool habitat. But we like to think that our efforts go beyond merely abiding by regulations. We recommend that you visit a vernal pool during the springtime; you'll see and hear for yourself the magical teeming and churning forces of primordial life itself reverberating from amidst your vernal pool.

Our vernal pool services include:

  • Vernal Pool Identification, Delineation, and Assessment (In Season)
  • Potential Vernal Pool Identification (Out of Season)
  • Permitting (State of Maine NRPA & LURC; Federal PGP & Individual)



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