Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
VENTURA: Partners Protect Habitats for Rare Salamander in California
California-Nevada Offices , July 9, 2007
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Oak woodlands on property acquired to recover Santa Cruz lon-toed salamander (Photo: USFWS)
Oak woodlands on property acquired to recover Santa Cruz lon-toed salamander (Photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
Santa Cruz long-toed salamander (Photo: USFWS)
Santa Cruz long-toed salamander (Photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a









Roger Root, Ventura FWO
The recovery of one of the California‚Äôs most imperiled species, the federally and State-listed endangered Santa Cruz long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum), took a dramatic step forward in May 2007 when a key 55-acre (22-hectare) property supporting the species was acquired through the collaborative efforts of the Wildlife Conservation Board, The Trust for Public Land, the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).   

The Santa Cruz long-toed salamander occurs only along a 25-mile (40-kilometer) stretch that spans the coastal region of southern Santa Cruz and northern Monterey counties.  The 55-acre (22-hectare) property near Watsonville in Santa Cruz County has been a top conservation priority for the Service and CDFG for many years.  The property contains a pond that provides important breeding habitat for the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander as well as the federally threatened California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii).  The property supports a variety of habitats, including rare coastal terrace prairie, thriving oak woodlands, annual grassland, coyote bush scrub, arroyo willow riparian, sedge dominated wetland, and redwood forest.  The southwestern pond turtle (Clemmys marmorata pallida) and yellow warbler (Dendroica petechia brewsteri) are two other riparian species that will directly benefit from this effort.  Acquisition of the property also fits into a larger, ongoing multiple-partner planning process for the entire Watsonville Slough watershed.


The property is in proximity to other important habitat that is part of the Ellicott National Wildlife Refuge.  This important acquisition contributes to the recovery of the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander by protecting potential upland habitat from development and providing an opportunity for upland habitat enhancement and additional breeding pond creation to support and enlarge the population.  In addition to the permanent protection of this important habitat for the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander, California red-legged frog, and other sensitive species, future management efforts on the property will emphasize research and environmental education.  Another future objective is to restore upland habitats on the property with native chaparral and oak woodland plant species and create an additional seasonal pond that would also provide important breeding habitat for the rare amphibians that occur on the property.


The property, which was valued at $1.9 million, was acquired by The Trust for Public Land for $1.8 million.  The Wildlife Conservation Board contributed $1.55 million for this acquisition.  The remaining $250,000 was provided to the CDFG by the Service through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund's Recovery Land Acquisition grant program. 


Contact Info: Alexandra Pitts, 916 414 6619, scott_flaherty@fws.gov
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