Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Salamander stalls historic renovation




By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DELHI TOWNSHIP — The prospect of finding a salamander listed as endangered in Ohio living in the Sedam Springhouse has stopped, for now, any restoration work on the historic structure.

        The township has been conducting an environmental assessment of the area around the springhouse before beginning any engineering or construction work.

        It is unclear what may happen if the salamander is discovered living in the springhouse when scientists go in search of the amphibian this spring, once its hibernation season has ended.

        Bob Bass, township road superintendent, said an environmental consulting firm had been combing the area in search of an endangered plant called running buffalo clover and evidence of the area being habitat for Indiana bats when it was discovered that the cave salamander — scientific name Eurycea lucifuga — has been found within a mile or so of the area in Embshoff Nature Preserve.

        The stone used to construct the springhouse — which dates to the late 1700s — and its moist environment could very well provide suitable habitat to the cave salamander, which prefers limestone outcrops and caves to woodland habitats.

        As early as mid-March or by April, scientists from Environmental Solutions & Innovations (ESI), an environmental consulting firm based in Delhi that specializes in endangered species, will head out at dusk on two or three occasions, flashlights in hand, and look for the salamander.

        What they find will be reported to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

        “That's a real good question,” said Mr. Bass of what will happen if it's found.

        The final decision would belong to ODNR. Options include relocating the population, or capturing the salamanders until the work is complete, then reintroducing them to the springhouse.

        The township was awarded a grant for $114,000 last summer by the Ohio Department of Transportation to help pay for the restoration work, which involves dismantling the structure, shoring up the hillside behind it, then reassembling the springhouse.

        It is on Delhi Pike just south of Mayhew Avenue.

       



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