NEPARC Conservation Awards

EXCELLENCE IN HERPETOFAUNAL CONSERVATION
2017 Award Winner

Jim Andrews is an independent herpetologist working out of his home in Salisbury, VT.  Jim obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont and later attended Middlebury College for his masters degree.  Jim coordinates the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas (VtHerpAtlas.org), teaches herpetology at the University of Vermont, funnels grants through Vermont Family Forests (http://www.familyforests.org/), and works as a consulting herpetologist. He also chairs the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Scientific Advisory Group to the Vermont Endangered Species Committee.

The Vermont Herp Atlas is a project begun in 1994 whose goal is to “to gather and disseminate data on the reptiles and amphibians of Vermont in a way that informs Vermont individuals and organizations so that they will become more informed and effective stewards of wildlife habitat”. Over the last 24 years this project has gathered, reviewed, and entered over 100,000 reptile and amphibian records from over 3000 people.  Every contributor is personally thanked and provided with basic information on the species reported.  New data on rare, threatened, and endangered species are shared with the Vermont Natural Heritage Inventory annually. Jim works regularly with Vermont Fish and Wildlife, and local TV and radio stations to inform the public about herpetological natural history and conservation.  He regularly speaks and leads field trips and workshops around the state of Vermont and in neighboring states.

Other Atlas projects include the production of a video on the reptiles and amphibians of New England titled “Rattlers, Peepers, and Snappers” with Vince Franke of Peregrine Productions.  This video has been used widely in classrooms from the elementary level on up through the graduate level.

He also works with the Otter Creek Audubon Society and the Salisbury Conservation Commission to organize annual amphibian migration nights to introduce Vermonters to the spectacle of spring amphibian migration.  This group also created a preserve for the overwintering habitat of reptiles and amphibians in Salisbury, VT.

In 2001, Jim introduced a herpetology course to the UVM Rubenstein School of Natural Resources and the Environment.  The course has been very popular with undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals working in the natural resource fields.  Many of those students have gone on to advanced degrees and careers in herpetology and related conservation fields.

Jim ran grants through Middlebury College from 1990 through 2008 and then began a grant relationship with Vermont Family Forests in Bristol.  His grant work has included long-term monitoring of amphibians at Mt. Mansfield through the Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative (http://www.uvm.edu/femc), long-term monitoring of amphibians and snakes in Lincoln, VT through the Colby Hill Ecological Project, and a continual run of State Wildlife Grants from Vermont Fish and Wildlife supporting radio-tracking, den location, and conservation of North American Racers and Eastern Ratsnakes, as well as support for the Vermont Herp Atlas.

Vermont Family Forests created a non-credit educational institution called Hogback Community College.  Jim designed and teaches a field herpetology course through that institution that has trained many working professionals including state biologists, foresters, and wetlands specialists in herpetological conservation.

Along with Sue Morse of Keeping Track (http://keepingtrack.org) and Chris Slesar of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, Jim designed and teaches a course called Habitats and Highways to introduce Vermont Transportation Agency personnel and their contractors to mammal and herp ecology and conservation.  The goal of the course is to minimize the impacts of transportation networks on wildlife.  Attendees are paid by the agency to take the course.  This course has been taught every-other-year in Vermont and occasionally in Maine and New Hampshire.  It has been instrumental in creating an effective and strong cooperative working relationship between VTrans, Vermont Fish and Wildlife, and others in the conservation community in Vermont.  In 2014 this course won the Distinguished Achievement Award at the Northeast Transportation and Wildlife Conference.

Jim’s consulting work deals almost entirely with minimizing the impacts of transportation projects on herps and other vertebrates.  Projects have included creation of artificial basking habitat for Spiny Softshells, creation of foraging habitat for North American Racers, and designing two highly successful underpasses for amphibians and other wildlife in Monkton, Vermont.  The underpass project won a 2017 Environmental Excellence Award from the Federal Highway Administration.

Through his position as Chair of the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Scientific Advisory Group Jim has proposed and overseen the listing of Eastern Ratsnake and Fowler’s Toad and has assisted with state wildlife action plans, recovery plans, and many other herpetological conservation activities.

Jim has been an active member of NEPARC for over a decade. He serves on the Hellbender and Mudpuppy Working Group, and was one of the keynote speakers and field trip leaders for the 2016 NEPARC conference in Vermont.

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Northeast Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation is fiscally sponsored by the Amphibian & Reptile Conservancy a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.