4 | June 27, 2019 | Malibu surfside news news malibusurfsidenews.com Glimmers of hope remain for threatened frogs Scientists seek to restore species’ fireravaged habitats Suzanne Guldimann Freelance Reporter The Woolsey Fire and the record rains that followed the disaster have had a devastating impact on the native amphibians of the Santa Monica Mountains, especially the California red-legged frog — a species threatened with extinction. The red-legged frog is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and is an International Union for Conservation of Nature vulnerable species. On June 19, the National Park Service shared details depicting the impact area disasters had on the species as well as what scientists are doing to aid the amphibians. The large frog has been entirely missing from its former range in Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains since the 1970s, but a population of the amphibians was discovered north of the 101 Freeway in the Simi Hills in 1999. Those frogs have been carefully monitored for two decades, and for the past five years have been used to reestablish the species in four spots south of the 101. National Park Service ecologist Katy Delaney has led the red-legged frog study for more than five years. She told the Malibu Surfside News that prior to the fire, the project to reintroduce the frogs was going well. In March of 2017, her team found evidence that the relocated frogs were breeding without human intervention and that they had sufficient habitat, despite the drought. That changed when the Woolsey Fire struck in November 2018. Red-legged frogs need year-round access to deep pools of clean water to survive and breed. They also need vegetation for shelter, shade and food. Only a few streams in the Santa Monica Mountains meet the criteria, and three of the four areas being used to reintroduce the red-legged frog were “annihilated,” Delaney said. “All of the sites burned, three really severely,” Delaney explained. “There is no aquatic habitat left and not much vegetation.” Each of the streams had a complete population of frogs, from tadpoles to mature adults. After the fire and the subsequent floods, the pools were almost entirely filled with sediment and debris, and only a few adult frogs were located. “If there is a frog here and there that’s great, but there are no breeding pools left,” Delaney stated in a press release. “They are all filled in with debris.” It is not all bad news. The fourth site did not burn. Sediment and debris from upstream caused temporary impacts, but, at the end of the rainy season, some of the deep pools the frogs rely on were free of debris and still retained pre-fire vegetation. That’s good news not only for the red-legged frog, but for the California newt, another fragile amphibian species that also depends on clean, deep pools to breed. The red-legged frog study team looks for survivors of the Woolsey Fire in December 2018. Three of the four streams where the frogs have been reintroduced were destroyed in the fire, but one area was not burned and the population source in the Simi Hills survived, despite that area burning. Photos by National Park Service Delaney explained that both the newts and the reglegged frogs are long-lived species, and there is a good chance fire survivors of both species will be able to breed in the future, provided there is enough rain to wash out the fire sediment and restore the pools. “Some streams filled up with a lot of sediment,” Delaney said. “It will depend on the drought, and climate change, but in 10 years, probably, with decent normal rainfall, the habitat will come back.” Delaney confirmed that there is still hope for the frogs. While the area around the Simi Hills source site for the frogs burned, their habitat was Please see frogs, 5 Biologist Mark Mendelsohn reacts to the March 2017 discovery of California red-legged frog egg masses in the Santa Monica Mountains.
malibusurfsidenews.com news Malibu surfside news | June 27, 2019 | 5 frogs From Page 4 not seriously impacted with sediment. “The source population seems fine,” she said. “That is our biggest asset. [During the fire] I didn’t even know if they [were] alive.” Delaney’s team surveyed the source site in December, as soon as they were able to get in after the fire. They found 90 frogs still alive. The study was impacted by the month-long government shutdown. After the federal government reopened, the team of biologists returned to the source site and discovered six egg masses. The Santa Barbara Zoo, a partner in the study, transported 1,000 eggs to the zoo, where they hatched in quarantined tanks. The rescued tadpoles were then reintroduced at two sites — the one that remained relatively unaffected by the fire and another that suffered damage but still had some key habitat. Delaney said her team is currently focused on restoring several pools by hand — a complex and difficult process that requires training and special permits. The goal is to provide refugia pools, so any surviving frogs will have at least a few pockets of habitat to get them through the postfire habitat loss. Red-legged frogs take three years to mature and can live 8-10 years in the wild. Delaney hasn’t lost hope that some of the adult frogs will make it through and live to breed another year, and that the reintroduced tadpoles will have breeding habitat by the time they are mature frogs. “It’s a very dynamic project,” Delaney said. “We will do as much as we can to restore the streams.” The fate of the redlegged frogs still remains in the balance, but there was more good news for the biologists monitoring the source population: 78 new egg masses — demonstrating promise of a new generation of this vulnerable species this year, despite losses from fire and flood. Partners in the reintroduction project are California State Parks, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, the Santa Barbara Zoo, the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/samo. Stabbing outside Neptune’s Net leaves one dead Police: After-hours altercation occurred among group of car enthusiasts Lauren Coughlin, Editor A 30-year old Ontario man is facing one felony count of murder following a Satur- From June 23 Maldonado day, June 22 altercation that left a 23-year-old man dead in the parking lot of Neptune’s Net. Daniel Maldonado reportedly stabbed the victim — a Hispanic male from La Puente whose name was not available as of press time — “several times” over a “previously unresolved issue,” according to a Sunday, June 23 press release from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. The incident occurred at 10:56 p.m. at 42505 PCH. The victim and offender were among a group of car enthusiasts who met up after the Malibu restaurant had closed for the evening, police said. “Lifesaving efforts were attempted, but the victim succumbed to his injuries at the scene,” the release states. Maldonado was arrested at the scene and booked into the pre-trial detention facility on a $500,000 bail. He was scheduled to appear in Ventura County Superior Court on Tuesday, June 25. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the Ventura County Fire Department and Gold Coast Ambulance reported to the scene. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Sgt. Steve Jenkins at (805) 384-4727. For more on this and other Breaking News, visit MalibuSurfsideNews.com. For those who have big plans Rare one-time price offering - Spectacular approx. 18.2 acre Woodstock Ranch parcel. Views in all directions from two large building pads. Two quaint valleys offer plenty of room for barn and horses. Abundant riding and hiking trails, and serenity. Few 20 acre parcels left in the valley. Plan and build a family compound, main home, guest home and even room for parents or in-laws. Plenty of room to plant water close to the property. Seller and agents are well versed on this property and the association. Listing agents need to show this property and are offering private showings. For more information visit: 3353longvalleyroad.com 3353 Long Valley Road Santa Ynez CA $550,000 3353longvalleyroad.com Mary Ann Foss DRE: 962006 805.455.1476 firstname.lastname@example.org maryannfoss.com Sotheby’s International Realty and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered (or unregistered) service marks used with permission. Operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Real estate agents affiliated with Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. are independent contractor sales associates and are not employees of Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc.Mary Ann Foss DRE: 9624200