Rare yellow-legged frogs are returned to drought-hammered San Gabriel Mountains, but the remaining population is declining.
A new report from the nonprofit San Gabriel Valley Water Dist. finds that the California drought has damaged the habitat of only a single remaining yellow-legged frog in the San Gabriel Mountains, while causing the extinction of the remainder, all of which have been found during a decade of surveys and investigations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The report — by the nonprofit Sierra Club — is based on data collected between 2013 and 2017, which the group analyzed and plotted on a number of maps that show habitat destruction and connectivity among different populations of this critically endangered species.
San Gabriel Mountains — a protected territory of the National Forest — are home to several populations of yellow-legged frogs, but this year has been particularly dry with little water to support them.
“At the last count in 2013, California had the lowest number of yellow-legged frogs in the world. All of them were in the San Gabriel Mountains, and there were just two left,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.
He said the most immediate impact is seen in the San Gabriel Mountains, where habitat has been eroded and the stream channels have been flooded by runoff from the Sierra Nevada.
“The frogs are having difficulty finding a place to live,” Brune said. “They’re also finding there are fewer places to find food, and that they have to travel farther to find it.”
The report finds that in the San Gabriel Mountains, there are three different populations of yellow-legged frogs, all but one of which have been extirpated. But the reports does not give details on where in the San Gabriel Mountains the frogs are, only that one is located in the San Fernando Valley.
When San Gabriel Mountains National Monument was created in 1939, it was a monument largely to celebrate California’s natural beauty. But more recently, politicians and advocates have been looking at what the monument should accomplish in terms of economic benefit and preservation of biodiversity.
The San Gabriel Mountains are home to many plants and animals like the yellow-legged frog, but they’re also threatened by climate change, and the report states that some studies suggest that they are disappearing rapidly.
In some regions, scientists have found that the yellow-legged frog