In February 2011, the Wallowa Land Trust acquired a conservation easement on 197-acres at the Confluence of the Lostine & Wallowa Rivers on the Woody Wolfe Ranch. The conservation easement essentially allows the Wolfe family to continue to own and manage the property while the development rights are transferred to the land trust. It then becomes the land trust's responsibility to monitor and manage the conservation values on the property. Learn more about this project here.
This year we have begun to implement a management plan on the Confluence Conservation Easement property. Part of that effort involves documenting threatened and important habitat and species on the property. This year we have already begun surveys for Columbia spotted frogs, a sensitive species whose numbers have declined due to loss of habitat and predation by non-native American bullfrogs. For breeding, Columbia spotted frogs require permanent, shallow, non-flowing water with emergent vegetation. They lay large egg clusters usually near the perimeter of shallow, perennial ponds.
In 2012 we have located five previously undocumented breeding locations for spotted frogs which altogether contained over 53 egg clusters. These results show that although the species is struggling, there are small pockets of habitat where the frogs can continue to breed and thrive. Additionally, Columbia spotted frog habitat needs are similar to the needs of other native amphibians so protecting spotted frog habitat means protecting habitat for other species as well. We look forward to seeing the spotted frog population continue to increase as we restore wetlands at the confluence.
Read more about local Columbia spotted frog surveys from our friends at Blue Mountains Conservancy here. And, check out their amphibian ID video too.
Photos: A volunteer examines spotted frog egg masses at a pond of the Wolfe Ranch, by Julia LakesColumbia spotted frog, by Karen Antell