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Vernal pool discovered at new high school site

A vernal pool at the new high school was certified as an official pool. This allows the pool and 100 feet around it to have protection. (click for larger version)
March 28, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — The land at the new high school won't just be home to students.

A vernal pool has been discovered on the eastern portion of the property on Torrey Road. On July 20, 2010, the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, part of the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program considered the location certified, although the entire process has not been completed.

"I noticed it in my many trips to that area," said Maureen Doyle, a member of the Southbridge Conservation Commission, who discovered the pool and put forth the paperwork for the pool's certification. "I took pictures each time. I actually noticed this before they started building the school, so there was no one else up there. I was checking to see if there was anything up there that we should be aware of, then I noticed this lovely vernal pool with a lot of egg masses in it. The application is a lot of work, five or six pages."

A vernal pool is a temporary body of water created by a snowmelt, rain or runoff in a depression. They form in the spring and last until the summer, where they are typically dried out.

The small invertebrates that inhabit the pool go to the same location each year to breed. After the mating season, the inhabitants move upland to the "non-breeding habitat," where they either burrow underground or manage to bare the winter aboveground.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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