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Bluffton firm gives concrete help to salamanders

Huts manufactured in Bluffton give endangered species shelter


Bluffton Precast Concrete won third place honors in the annual Creative Use of Precast Awards competition for these custom-designed precast concrete huts made to protect salamanders. populationCustom-designed precast concrete huts made to protect the rapidly declining salamander population. The award, sponsored by the National Precast Concrete Association, was presented to the company at The Precast Show 2014 on February 13 in Houston.


BLUFFTON, Ohio — A declining species of salamander is getting some help from a couple of northwest Ohio companies.

Bluffton Precast Concrete Co. of Bluffton is manufacturing concrete huts designed to protect the Eastern Hellbender salamander.

The Eastern Hellbender is found in rivers and streams in the eastern United States, but its population has declined in recent years. Experts suspect that disappearing habitat plays a big role in the decline of the species.

David Akin, president of Bluffton Precast Concrete, partnered with biologist Greg Lipps on the project.

They developed the Eastern Hellbender Salamander Hut, a 150-pound precast concrete structure that can be installed in streams and riverbeds frequented by the amphibian.

Mr. Lipps’ Web site says the “Bender Huts” are meant to resemble cavities under large rocks, “the Hellbender’s preferred place to hide and nest.”

A removable lid on the hut allows researchers to check on the salamanders without having to disturb the creatures.

Mr. Lipps is a former Toledo Zoo zookeeper.

The Hellbender is a relatively large salamander that, at maturity, reaches 17 to 23 inches in length. They are valuable as both predator and prey in the ecosystems they inhabit.

Their territory stretches from southwestern New York to northern Alabama and Georgia, stretching through southern Ohio into Indiana and Illinois.

Salamander homes are a little different from Bluffton Precast Concrete’s usual products, which include manhole components and catch basins.

The design was based on a structure made of chicken wire and concrete that one of Mr. Lipps’ colleagues developed.

Bluffton Precast Concrete worked with one its suppliers, Norwalk Precast Molds Inc. of Norwalk, Ohio, to come up with the final product.

The salamander hut won third-place honors in the national Creative Use of Precast Awards competition. Bluffton Precast Concrete received the award at The Precast Show 2014 in Houston.

At the same show, Norwalk Concrete Industries earned the award for third place for its work on a reflecting pond wall at the new Eaton corporate headquarters in Beachwood, Ohio.

Contact Chip Towns at: or 419-724-6194.

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