Wolf Administration Highlights Work to Improve Hellbender Habitat

April 22, 2019

Harrisburg, PA– On the eve of the bill signing ceremony recognizing the Eastern hellbender salamander as the state amphibian, the Wolf Administration is highlighting the importance of clean water to the species.

“Hellbenders need clean water to thrive and survive, and DEP has been working to improve water quality throughout the salamander’s range,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “Naming the hellbender the official state amphibian is a great way to draw attention to the types of projects that help provide the clear, clean water that DEP and partner organizations have made possible.”

Governor Wolf will sign the bill tomorrow to officially name the Hellbender as Pennsylvania’s state amphibian. He will be joined by high school students that led the legislative push to raise awareness about the importance of clean waterways.

Sediment pollution in water can choke hellbenders and bury their eggs in riverbeds, threatening their populations. Projects that reduce sediment, such as planting trees along streambanks and repairing eroded banks, can improve hellbender habitat.

Loyalsock Creek, recently named River of the Year for 2018, is a prime example of a waterway that has been improved through DEP grants and partnerships throughout the watershed. Projects in recent years that have improved hellbender habitat have included work on Wallis Run, Mill Creek, Asaph Run, Babb Creek, and Marsh Creek.

“Hellbenders need clean, fresh water to thrive, just like people do,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “The work that DEP and partners have done to improve water quality throughout Pennsylvania is making our streams and river better for people, better for fish, and better for hellbenders.”

“But there is a lot more work that needs to be done to continue to improve Pennsylvania waterways, and it will require a tremendous investment. Governor Tom Wolf’s Restore Pennsylvania initiative would devote funds to water quality projects, as well as addressing other pressing infrastructure and economic development needs,” said McDonnell.

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