HARRISBURG, Pa. — Chesapeake Bay Foundation student leaders went to Williamsport to celebrate the salamander that is Pennsylvania’s new official state amphibian and to salute the state senator whose support was key to making it happen.
Working together, the group’s Student Leadership Council and Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) were able to have the Eastern hellbender designated as the Commonwealth’s state amphibian.
Students spearheaded the campaign to recognize North America’s largest salamander and create greater awareness of the need to reduce pollution in rivers and streams.
Hellbenders are an indicator species for clean water. They survive where there is cold, clear, swift-running water. Students studied hellbenders extensively, installed nesting boxes in streams, and wrote the first draft of legislation that eventually became Senate Bill 9. It was sponsored by Yaw.
Senate Bill 9 was passed by the Senate and House earlier this year and the hellbender bill signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf April 23.
To honor Yaw, the students presented him a woodcarving of a hellbender.
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