National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior San Francisco Bay Area Network Resource Briefing July 2010 Red Legged Frogs at Mori Point The Importance: What are the long-term threats to the survival of the California red-legged frog? The federally threatened California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) has been eliminated from 70 percent of its former range, which once extended from Mendocino County to Baja California. It is now found primarily in coastal drainages in central California, from Marin County south to San Simeon. In the 1880s, a booming commercial demand for frog’s legs led to over-harvest of this species. Today, the primary threat to red-legged frogs comes from habitat loss caused by human activities and natural disturbances like agriculture, timber harvest, California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) development, and recreation. The degree of threats varies by geographic location, and many populations are threatened by more than one of these factors at a time. Additionally, numerous non-native plants and predators have been introduced into existing habitat. In particular, predation by introduced bullfrogs and fish has significantly contributed to the decline of red-legged frogs. These non-native species were introduced to California in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and have become established throughout most of the state. Mori Point in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a prime example of a site where red-legged frogs have been affected by human disturbance. Prior to the National Park Service’s acquisition of the land in 2004, a history of intensive recreation had caused a large network of informal trails that eroded the landscape and altered its hydrology. These activities had significant impacts on critical habitat for the red-legged frog and many other species. The Project: Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy have conducted an extensive habitat restoration project on the newly-acquired land at Mori Point. The recovery plan for the California red-legged frog, released in 2002, is a collaborative effort among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and several other organizations. The plan details a number of actions to guide management and recovery of the species. Newly constructed trail at Mori Point Newly constructed elevated boardwalk at Mori Point protects red-legged frog habitat (Photo: Mason Cummings) Because of the geographically varied status of this species and differing levels of threats throughout its range, recovery strategies differ by site. Overall, the strategy for recovery of the species involves four steps: 1. Protecting existing populations by reducing threats. 2. Restoring and creating habitat that will be protected and managed in perpetuity. 3. Surveying and monitoring populations and conducting research on the biology of and threats to the species. 4. Reestablishing populations within its historic range A crew of volunteers helps plant native vegetation around one of the newly restored frog ponds at Mori Point The Mori Point restoration project was conceived to address the need to protect habitat for the various federally listed species at the site. In response to the problem of encroaching trails and related patterns of erosion, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and its partner organizations worked to construct a well-defined trail to guide visitors away from disturbed areas, restoration areas, and sensitive habitats. The project’s long-term benefits are drawn from improved hydrologic connections between wetlands, uplands, and ponds. Frog pond restoration continues today with the planting of thousands more native wetland plants. Additional Resources: Summary written by Mason Cummings. For more information regarding the Mori Point restoration project, contact Susie Bennett, firstname.lastname@example.org, or for more information about red-legged frogs contact Garry Fellers, Garry_Fellers@usgs.gov.