Tuesday, July 29, 2014

California red-legged frog: Our Newly Famous Sunol Valley Resident

Just a few weeks ago, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation designating one of our local Sunol Valley animals -- the California red-legged frog -- as the official State Amphibian! Since getting an autograph is out of the question, we thought we’d offer you a reintroduction to our famous resident instead.

The California red-legged frog is the largest native frog in the state and was first made famous in Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. According to the National Wildlife Federation, true to its name, they have reddish coloring on the underside of their legs and belly. They dine on anything they can catch and fit into their mouths. Mostly insects, but the occasional amphibian or small mammal might also become dinner. Speaking of dinner, California red-legged frogs were once a popular dinner cuisine during the Gold Rush era.

Contra Costa and Alameda Counties contain the majority of known observations of California red-legged frogs in the San Francisco Bay Area (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2002). Today, their existence is threatened due to loss of habitat, particularly near urban communities and development. Thankfully, the 36,000 acres of Southern Alameda Creek Watershed lands owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has been protected and is a haven for our famous residents.

Our primary goal as watershed stewards is to protect existing populations, control non-native predators, and protect habitat for the red-legged frogs. As we make progress on our Water System Improvement Program in Sunol Valley, our Environmental Compliance teams work side by side with construction contractors to ensure our newly-designated Official State Amphibian is safe from harm.

Photos courtesy of Bill Stagnaro, Environmental Inspector
with the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project

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