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Endangered toad forces change to planned Patton Township bike/pedestrian path

Cars travel along Circleville Road on Friday, March 14, 2014. There is a proposal for a trail that will connect the Circleville Trail to Circleville Park and into the Scotia Plain.
Cars travel along Circleville Road on Friday, March 14, 2014. There is a proposal for a trail that will connect the Circleville Trail to Circleville Park and into the Scotia Plain. CDT photo

The spadefoot toad won’t have to cross the road to get to the other side of its habitat in the wetlands near Circleville Park.

Patton Township officials learned Wednesday that they instead have to move a planned bicycle and pedestrian path to accommodate the creature, which is considered endangered by the state Fish and Boat Commission.

At its regular meeting, the Board of Supervisors approved a change that will see the path swing out around the toad’s habitat. The board also discussed funding for a second phase of the trail project, which will eventually connect Circleville Park and the nearby Grays Woods neighborhood.

Plans for the path originally called for it to travel alongside Circleville Road, and in one place straight through a small wetland area.

After the discovery of the toad habitat, designers were tasked with finding a way for the creature to safely cross the trail. They settled on a trench drain the toads could hop through.

The Fish and Boat Commission, which has jurisdiction over amphibians, was on board with that, but the state Department of Environmental Protection has since weighed in and nixed the idea. Because an endangered toad has been spotted there in the past, the area is considered an exceptional value wetland, which the DEP has authority over.

The township now has to redesign about 500 feet of the path, which its engineer has estimated will cost an additional $4,800.

Patton officials expressed some concern that the small wetland would now be isolated, Circleville Road on one side and the path on the other, but said their hands are tied.

According to the Fish and Boat Commission, the toad spends most of its time underground, surfacing largely when there is heavy rainfall in the spring and midsummer to forage or mate.

Supervisor Jeff Luck joked that the board should adopt the rare toad as the official amphibian of Patton Township.

The 1.2-mile stretch of trail from Circleville Park to the intersection of Circleville and Scotia roads is in the final design phase, and the eventual construction will be funded by federal grant money.

The township is working to secure additional funds for a second phase to extend the path along Scotia Road to its intersection with Grays Woods Boulevard. The Board of Supervisors also approved Wednesday sending out a grant application to PennDOT for $332,120 in new funding to cover the second phase.

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