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.”
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.”
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."
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.
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.
"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
"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
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.
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!
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.
SAVE THE FROGS! volunteers surveying a wetland we helped build in 2014.
In October 2016, SAVE THE FROGS! volunteers saw California Red-Legged Frogs using these wetlands that we built in 2014.
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!
Taking an elevation reading as an excavator shapes the new wetland
The wetland crew installing a pesticide-free liner in Eldorado National Forest, October 2016.
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!!”
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:
SAVE THE FROGS! Wetland Coordinator Kathlyn Franco inspecting one of the Eldorado wetlands she helped construct in 2014.
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!