What is a vernal pool?

Vernal (meaning Spring) pools, also known as ephemeral pools, are unique wildlife habitats, which have become an increasingly rare type of wetland in Massachusetts. Due to their sensitivity, vernal pools and the surrounding areas are protected under the MA Wetlands Protection Act, as well as the Georgetown Wetlands Protection Bylaw. Vernal pools provide critical habitat for amphibians and invertebrate animals, such as the wood frog (Rana sylvatica), blue-spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale), Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii), and spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata). A vernal pool is a confined basin that typically fills with water in the autumn or winter due to rising groundwater and rainfall. The water remains ponded throughout the spring, until the water dries up in the summer months. Many amphibians and invertebrate species rely on vernal pools for their breeding, feeding, and shelter purposes.

For that reason, vernal pools are essential for the continued survival of the wildlife species that are dependent upon this rare and threatened resource area.