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SAVE THE FROGS! plans to build six wetlands in 2017. Four of the wetlands will be approximately 30-ft diameter and two will be 12-ft diameter. Each wetland takes a full day to build. The large wetlands require heavy equipment (such as an excavator). The small wetlands we will build by hand.

The estimated cost for SAVE THE FROGS! to build a 30-ft wetland is $6,954. This covers the initial site survey, wetland design, coordinating, planning, travel expenses, heavy equipment and equipment operator, building materials, seeds, native vegetation, promotion via our website, newsletter and social media, as well as reporting to funders and partners and a followup site survey.

The estimated cost for SAVE THE FROGS! to build a 12-ft wetland is $3,530. This covers the initial site survey, wetland design, coordinating, planning, travel expenses, building materials, seeds, native vegetation, promotion via our website, newsletter and social media, as well as reporting to funders and partners and a followup site survey.

Thus, the total cost for the SAVE THE FROGS! 2017 wetland program will be approximately $35,582, for which we plan to deliver four large and two small wetlands. Of course we will also to continue to educate, empower, and inspire other frog enthusiasts to build wetlands as well!

We appreciate your financial support to ensure we can build these six wetlands and educate hundreds of volunteers in the process.  You can donate here. Thank you!

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On December 7th, 2016, SAVE THE FROGS! and the Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition to the California Fish & Game Commission (FGC) calling on the state to ban the importation of live American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) by adding the species to the state’s list of restricted animals. The addition would help prevent future introductions of bullfrogs, which in California are a non-native, invasive amphibian.

Download the petition here.

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Photo of American Bullfrog courtesy Jock Branson

Bullfrogs prey upon and compete with California's native wildlife, and play a role in the spread of disease. The American Bullfrog is included in the Global Invasive Species Database’s list of “One Hundred of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species.” In 1997 the European Union banned the importation of live American bullfrogs due to their invasiveness, yet about 2 million live bullfrogs are currently imported into California every year. The California Department of Fish & Wildlife issued a 2014 report "Implications of Importing American Bullfrogs into California" that clearly demonstrates the threat caused to California's native wildlife by American Bullfrogs.

“Bullfrogs have already inflicted significant damage on California's wildlife populations, including many that are threatened with extinction,” said Jenny Loda, a biologist and attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Every new shipment of live bullfrogs into California presents the threat of further introductions of this highly invasive frog. We simply can't take the risk.”

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An animal can be added to the “restricted animals” list by the FGC when it “is proven to be undesirable and a menace to native wildlife.” The FGC has previously used its authority to restrict live imports of other non-native, invasive animals that pose similar threats as bullfrogs, including carp, water snakes and some species of abalone.

SAVE THE FROGS! has been campaigning for an end to live bullfrog importations into California since May of 2010, when SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger spoke at a Fish & Game Commission hearing on the topic. At that hearing, the Commission voted to disallow the importation of live non-native frogs and turtles into the state, but the Department of Fish & Wildlife never abided by the Commission’s instructions, resulting in over ten million additional American Bullfrogs entering the state due to the Department's failure to act on behalf of native wildlife. Our current petition will hold more legal force if it is successful.

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Live American Bullfrogs piled high in a San Francisco market. Photo by Michael Starkey.

"It's about time. Back in the 1990's the population of tree frogs and reg-legged frogs were completely depleted from south Napa in the town of Napa, CA. This was in the creek at Old Sonoma Road next to a school building. The tree frogs used to be so loud at night and then one year we had flooding, we got bullfrogs swimming over the dam into the creek, and that was the end of the native frogs. I personally love bullfrogs as long as they are native to an area, such as Vermont. They are very beautiful. However importing them to sell in open markets is cruel and disgusting. I feel really sorry for them."
-- Louise Salant

In May 2015 I submitted this letter on behalf of SAVE THE FROGS! members in California, across the USA and around the world, expressing our support for increasing the protections afforded to the Coast Dairies property in California, and specifically calling on politicians to designate the land as part a national monument, so as to ensure permanent protections for the property’s biodiversity.

On January 12th, 2017, President Barack Obama issued this proclamation declaring that Cotoni-Coast Dairies and important nearby areas are now included in the California Coastal National Monument, stating “The threatened California red-legged frog uses many of the waterways and water sources here, along with a wide range of other amphibians and reptiles.”

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California Red-Legged Frog Egg Mass

Excerpts from President Obama’s proclamation:

“WHEREAS, it is in the public interest to preserve the objects of scientific and historic interest on the public lands of Trinidad Head, Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch, Lost Coast Headlands, Cotoni-Coast Dairies, Piedras Blancas, and Orange County Rocks and Islands;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by section 320301 of title 54, United States Code, hereby proclaim the objects identified above that are situated upon lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the Federal Government to be part of the California Coastal National Monument and, for the purpose of protecting those objects, reserve as part thereof all lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the Federal Government within the boundaries described on the accompanying maps, which are attached hereto and form a part of this proclamation. The Orange County Rocks and Islands shall be managed as part of the original offshore area of the monument, and the remainder of the lands shall be known as the Trinidad Head, Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch, Lost Coast Headlands, Cotoni-Coast Dairies, and Piedras Blancas units of the monument, respectively. These reserved Federal lands and interests in lands encompass approximately 6,230 acres. The boundaries described on the accompanying maps are confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

Warning is hereby given to all unauthorized persons not to appropriate, injure, destroy, or remove any feature of the monument and not to locate or settle upon any of the lands thereof.”

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California Red-Legged Frogs (Rana draytonii) albino photo courtesy of Don Alley.

Grey Hayes, Ph.D. led the campaign to protect Cotoni-Coast Dairies and has also served as a facilitator in several amphibian workshops I have taken part in over the years. Grey said of SAVE THE FROGS’ involvement:

“SAVE THE FROGS! was important in informing the President about the importance of adding protection to specific sensitive natural resources on the property. These resources were not included in the Congressional proposal to designate the Monument, but our work together provided scientific documentation that enabled the President to justify including them in his designation. This included naming the California red-legged frog and other amphibians and reptiles as reasons for designating the area as a National Monument. The proclamation also requires that a management plan be prepared that protects those species before public access is allowed -- guaranteeing a balanced approach between access and preservation."

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Frog art by from the SAVE THE FROGS! Art Contest by Amanda Wilson

 

Victory for amphibians in California! The United States Fish and Wildlife Service declared nearly 3,000 square miles in the Sierra Nevada mountains as critical habitat for the mountain yellow-legged frog, Sierra Madre yellow-legged frog and the Yosemite toad. These three endangered amphibian species face an array of threats including pesticides, infectious diseases and predation by invasive trout species. This newly secured habitat will give these amazing amphibians the much needed protection they deserve.

Many thanks to the wonderful SAVE THE FROGS! supporters who sent in letters of support when the USFWS held a public comment period for listing this area as endangered amphibian species habitat. Learn more about this exciting victory here.

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Mountain Yellow-legged Frogs in Amplexus. Photo by Vance Vredenburg.

The City of Santa Cruz Water Department partnered with the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County to present an amphibian conservation themed walk and talk at Loch Lomond Recreation Area on Save The Frogs Day! They passed around exciting amphibian conservation educational material and learned about some of the invasive species that threaten California’s native ecosystems.

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"I organized the event to be held at Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael, CA. I had three tables, one for the STF paraphernalia, one for kids coloring and education, and one for face painting. I had a volunteer, Cody, who assisted with the main STF table and distributing material while I was overseeing the other 2 tables.

The kids station had the following: pictures of various frogs to color, photos of frogs, books and educational material. The nature center also provided us with a bullfrog in a tank and pacific chorus frog tadpoles in another. This served as an educational tool as well to discuss how bullfrogs are a danger to other native species.

At the third table, I stationed a hired girl who painted frogs on the kids faces (the adults wanted them too!). I also set out handmade cupcakes to sell in order to add to the profit making for the organization. This was a popular addition. The nature center staff had amphibians, reptiles and birds to show people that came by our table.

Overall, it was a great success. Many people that came by our table were unaware of the threats frogs are facing and were very receptive to listening."
- Sara T, Save The Frogs Day Event Organizer

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"Our third SAVE THE FROGS! bake sale fundraiser was a success. We set up our information and baked goods table in a local shopping center in north Auburn, California. Once again, our assortment of lemon bars and cookies were a hit – along with our rescue-dog mascot, the “Frog Dog”, Tazz. We’re still a bit surprised that many people do not know the danger of extinction our amphibian friends face. Many times we heard, “Frogs are in trouble, really?” A lot of people do not know that they are under duress due to pesticides, loss of habitat, invasive species, climate change and more. On Save The Frogs Day this year, we were excited to once again educate (our #1 goal) over 150 people and receive over $300 to support the STF organization’s efforts. Thank you STF! For all that you do to help the frogs." ~ Nancy and Taylor Lichtle

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California Red-Legged Frogs (Rana draytonii) were once abundant in California, but their numbers declined drastically in the mid-1800’s when gold miners began eating them in large quantities and their mining activities eroded hillsides and polluted the water bodies the frogs rely on. Modern day Californians negatively impact California Red-Legged Frogs by destroying the frogs’ habitats for homes, roads, timber, golf courses and shopping centers. To make matters worse, over two million live non-native American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) are imported into the state each year for use as food, and the bullfrogs are voracious predators of California Red-Legged Frogs.

There is hope for the red-legged frogs however: in 2014, SAVE THE FROGS! led a successful campaign to make the California Red-Legged Frog the state’s official amphibian, and we initiated our efforts to Re-Frog America by constructing wetlands for these and other threatened amphibians.

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California's official state amphibian, the California Red-Legged Frog (Rana draytonii)

California Red-Legged Frogs had not been known to breed in the Eldorado National Forest for many years, but one lake that borders the forest (Lake Of The Cross) was being used successfully by the frogs for breeding. As such, the Eldorado Forest Service contacted Tom Biebighauser of the Center for Wetland and Stream Restoration for his assistance in creating wetlands on the Forest Service property.

In October 2014, SAVE THE FROGS! biologists Dr. Kerry Kriger, Kathlyn Franco and Emily Moskal joined Tom, the U.S. Forest Service and the American River Conservancy as well as biologists from several other state and federal agencies, and together we created nine wetlands for California Red-Legged Frogs over the course of a week. Prior to construction, various people had stated that these wetlands would not function; however, despite a severe drought, seven of the wetlands naturally filled with water, and followup surveys found California Red-Legged Frogs using the new habitats! Our wetlands are assisting an iconic and federally-listed amphibian - this is a huge success!

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Left to right: Kathlyn Franco, Dr. Kerry Kriger, Tom Biebighauser, Emily Moskal (October 2014)

In October 2016, SAVE THE FROGS!, the U.S. Forest Service, the American River Conservancy and Tom Biebighauser returned to Eldorado National Forest to conduct more surveys and to build more wetlands. SAVE THE FROGS! invited volunteers, as one of our prime objectives is to train biologists and landowners how to build wetlands.

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SAVE THE FROGS! volunteers surveying a wetland we helped build in 2014.

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In October 2016, SAVE THE FROGS! volunteers saw California Red-Legged Frogs using these wetlands that we built in 2014.

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Thanks to the Amphibian & Reptile Conservancy for their financial assistance with the 2014 wetlands.

On October 3rd and 4th, 2016, SAVE THE FROGS! and our partners created two new wetlands for the California Red-Legged Frogs - and they have been successful. Maura Santora (US Forest Service Aquatic Biologist) informed us that one month after the construction, red-legged frogs were found using both of the ponds!

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Taking an elevation reading as an excavator shapes the new wetland

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The wetland crew installing a pesticide-free liner in Eldorado National Forest, October 2016.

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Covering the pesticide free liner with geotextile to protect it.

Here's what SAVE THE FROGS! Volunteer Mindy Meadows (who flew in from Tennessee) wrote to SAVE THE FROGS! Wetland Coordinator Kathlyn Franco after the construction event:

“It was such an amazing experience! Not only did I get to meet you and learn from you but also Leslie, Emily, Tom, Maura, Neil…so many wonderful people with so much knowledge! We learned things we didn’t even expect….like fixing the equipment road after the wetland was built. Thank you SO much for making it all happen and for saving the frogs!!”

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We covered the liner with soil and branches so amphibians can hide and attach egg masses.

Here is an exceptionally cool video of the entire October 3rd, 2016 wetland being built…and condensed into three-minutes:

These wetland projects are vastly important. We have successfully created wetlands that are being used by federally threatened frogs, giving them increased chance of survival, even as their habitats elsewhere are being degraded. More wetlands like these will enable their populations to rebound.

We look forward to sharing more success stories like this! If you agree that Re-Frogging America by building wetlands for threatened amphibians is important, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to SAVE THE FROGS!. In 2017, SAVE THE FROGS! Wetland Coordinator Kathlyn Franco is planning to lead the construction of seven new wetlands - and your financial support will make them possible.

If you are interested in learning how to build wetlands, please fill out this short form so we can keep you updated when we announce new wetland construction events or release new training materials:

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SAVE THE FROGS! Wetland Coordinator Kathlyn Franco inspecting one of the Eldorado wetlands she helped construct in 2014.

A huge thank you to LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics and Norcross Wildlife Foundation for contributing financially to SAVE THE FROGS! wetland efforts.

Help save Tesla Park’s endangered amphibians from off-highway vehicle destruction!

We need your help today to stop the State of California from turning 3,100 acres of critical amphibian habitat at Tesla Park into a publicly funded off-highway vehicle park! Three-wheelers and dirt bikes have no place in one of the state’s most biologically rich areas, but the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR) of California State Parks is planning to expand the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area into nearby Tesla Park, which contains some of the state's most important amphibian habitat. Please submit your comment through the easy to use form we created at: http://savethefrogs.com/tesla

Tesla Park is home to our official state amphibian the California Red-legged Frog (Rana draytonii); California Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma californiense), Foothill Yellow-legged frogs (Rana boylii); Spadefoot toads (Spea hammondii), as well as more common species like California Newts (Taricha torosa) and Pacific Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris regilla). The OHMVR wants to let intensive OHV use destroy the upland habitats of these frogs and salamanders. Please make your voice heard and help protect Tesla Park's amazing amphibians!


California Red-legged Frog, Rana draytonii, photo by Joshua Asel

"We had a wonderful "Save the Frogs Day" event at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park! We had record attendance - over 50 participants! There was a presentation, than on to active frog learning games outside with a hike to the pond for viewing. In the following week, we held an art contest with State Park prizes such as camping and boating! Our local newspaper placed the event in several editions of the paper and Save the Frogs Day made the front page of today's paper as well. I enjoy being part of the Save the Frogs community and look forward to assisting in the future as opportunities become available!" - Save The Frogs Day organizer Autumn K

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In North Carolina, the Sylvan Heights Bird Park hosted two frog focused events in April culminating with a Save The Frog Day celebration April 30, 2016. There were interactive games, activities and informational displays creating fun and enjoyable learning experiences while raising awareness of the challenges faced by amphibians around the world. Many participants were unaware of the amphibian population decline but our goal to help educate the public about frogs and frog conservation was successful as over 600 people attended these events.
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Students Saved The Frogs at Bay Elementary School in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida!
"Our school has an area that floods due to heavy rains. There was a drain but it is no longer functional. The area that is currently flooded is 200 feet by 30 feet and 2 feet deep. There are massive schools of tadpoles within this temporary pond. In places, two feet deep by 10' x 2' with thousands and thousands of tadpoles. The water is receding at a rate that will have the area dried up by next week. I sent out a school wide email to "Save the Frogs" at our school. Students netted the tadpoles and put them in 5-gallon pails to move to a nearby pond. It has turned out to be a great teaching moment to introduce vocabulary to the students like; -schools, spawning, life cycle, water cycle, stages of metamorphosis and habitat'." - Bay Elementary School Teacher and Save The Frogs Day Event Orangizer

What a great way to Save The Frogs!

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"The docents and Conservation Teen Scientists of Zoo Miami hosted a SAVE THE FROGS! booth at the Party for the Planet Earth Day event at the Zoo. We had all kinds of informational posters, quizzes and interactive games. We put an iPod with frog sounds inside the toad abode so we had froggie music all day long. A very popular draw to our tables is "frog food" and the tadpoles. We did temporary frog tattoos (for donations) - we didn't really raise much money this weekend but we certainly got to raise a lot of awareness. A fun game is our magnetic letter Amphibian Anagram word scramble and a fun activity is our Frog Jump. Everyone loves our little frog and tadpole sock puppets and we enjoy teaching kids to love and appreciate frogs early on. We laminated and cut out frogs to trace and color on a table covered with white paper and we also had a box full of assorted frog coloring pages. We had a great event and plan on doing it again next year!! Thanks for all you are doing to help SAVE THE FROGS!"
-- Holly Draluck, Docent, Zoo Miami

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Introduction:
SAVE THE FROGS! Wetland Coordinator Kathlyn Franco writes about her March 2016 trip to save endangered species in Arizona by constructing wetlands and Re-Frogging America! Kathlyn assisted wetland expert Tom Biebighauser in re-building a failing wetland. This wetland is extremely important because it is situated in a desert where water is rare. Amphibians and other wildlife depend on these water sources for survival and breeding. This pond in particular is being built to hold water year round to manage for the Gila Topminnow; a federally-listed species of fish. The landowners built this wetland on their property but due to the sandy loam soil type, they are losing too much water directly into the ground and the rest to evaporation. Read on to learn more about this project and the different steps taken to fix this pond! Visit www.savethefrogs.com/wetlands to learn all about wetlands.

Arriving At The Scene (February 22, 2016):

Last night I arrived in Tucson, Arizona surrounded by the iconic Saguaro cactus and, today, I find myself being driven up 3,000 feet in elevation, 45 minutes outside of the city. I leave the big city of Tucson behind in exchange for the mesquite-grassland of Amado, a town with a population of only 295 people. The open land surrounding Amado has the space needed for wildlife movement and we plan to build a large, 90-by70-foot wetland for wildlife to thrive. The wetland will be on private property, a ranch endearingly named TimBuckTwo. Currently, the land where we are to build is barely holding water. In order to protect the federally listed Gila Topminnow and create a water source for wildlife, we want to repair this wetland reshaping the basin with an excavator to give it a slope less than 20%. This will give the wetland a more natural look and create an ecosystem with high biodiversity. We want the wetland to hold water year round for the federally endangered fish and surrounding wildlife, so we plan to make this wetland 8 feet deep in the center.

CONSTRUCTION BEGINS

As we begin to reshape the basin we find a nonnative bullfrog hibernating.

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This is a sure sign that amphibians can live in this area when water is available. To ensure the survival of our native amphibian species and our federally-listed Gila Topminnow, we removed this nonnative bullfrog. Once we finished reshaping the basin with the excavator, our volunteers, provided by Sky Island Alliance, helped rake and remove rocks and anything else that can puncture our geotextile liner that holds water.

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After we raked the wetland and placed the geotextile with the help of the volunteers, we stretched out the geotextile and staked 12-inch spikes in at the elevation of the future water level. Elevation of the spillway (lower edge) determines the water level and where to stake the spikes. All of these steps took all day! To learn the next steps, please stay tuned.

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Learn more about how SAVE THE FROGS! is Re-Frogging America.

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