Seattle Public Utilities Mami Hara, General Manager/CEO

 

Pond-breeding Amphibians

red decommissioning slide show

Red-legged frogs breed in many small ponds and wetlands in the Cedar River Watershed.

Amphibians have thin moist skin, with no protective covering such as scales or fur. Consequently, they are very vulnerable to drying and must live in cool, damp habitats, including large old logs and under the ground surface.

The pond-breeding amphibians of the Cedar River Municipal Watershed are listed as other species of concern under the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Wetlands, ponds, and meadows, as well as the forests around them, provide important habitat for pond-breeding amphibians. Amphibian species require both water bodies in which to lay eggs and reproduce young, and riparian and upland forests for dispersal, foraging, and overwintering.

Large logs on the forest floor are especially important habitat elements for these amphibians. The logs provide a moist microclimate which protects their skin from drying, act as cover from predators, and are a habitat substrate for many insects which amphibians eat. Under the HCP, all habitats necessary to pond-breeding amphibians are protected or enhanced. The watershed stretches from lower elevation forests to the crest of the Cascade Mountain range, providing a wide variety of habitat types for pond-breeding amphibians.

Read more about pond-breeding amphibians on the Seattle Public Utilities Cedar River Biodiversity website.

Goals

Our long-term goal is to both maintain existing breeding habitat and enhance riparian and upland forest habitat in the watershed. Our specific objectives include:

  1. Protect and maintain all ponds, meadows, and wetlands in the watershed
  2. Enhance amphibian riparian and upland forest habitat by accelerating the development of large trees and logs, especially in riparian forests and upland forests within 0.5 mile of known breeding ponds

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What are we doing for pond-breeding amphibians?

Protect All Watershed Habitats
Management of the watershed serves to avoid or minimize adverse effects of major events such as fire, spills of toxic materials, invasive species, and excessive human disturbance. Toxic spills could cause direct amphibian mortality, as well as kill their prey species. Protecting riparian areas, wetlands, meadows, and forests from invasive species allows these ecosystems to continue to support amphibian populations. View more information on habitat protection metrics..

Aquatic and Riparian Habitat Restoration
Riparian habitat enhancement projects include planting conifer trees such as Sitka spruce in areas with few or no conifers, releasing existing conifers in areas where they are being suppressed by dense overstory alder trees, and thinning in dense conifer stands. All of these techniques should accelerate development of the large trees that eventually will provide the large diameter logs used by amphibians in riparian forests. View more information on our aquatic and riparian habitat restoration metrics.

Road Improvements and Decommissioning
Roads contributing sediment are decommissioned or improved in order to reduce sediment delivery to aquatic systems, create better habitat for all aquatic species, and improve water quality. See more information on road decommissioning metrics.

Upland Forest Habitat Restoration
Upland forest habitat enhancement projects are designed as active restoration projects to accelerate old-growth forest conditions in dense second-growth forest generated after clearcut logging. One restoration technique is variable density thinning to provide more growing space for remaining trees. This should provide the large trees that eventually will provide the large diameter logs used by amphibians in upland forests. View more on our upland forest habitat restoration metrics

Snow Retention Gaps
In young conifer forests near meadow systems in upper elevations of the watershed, we are experimenting with creating small gaps to provide areas for snow to accumulate and hopefully be retained for a longer period of time into the summer months. The retention of snow should benefit amphibians by maintaining water supply at meadow breeding sites and also provide slower snowmelt into the water supply system, benefiting SPU water operations. (project plan pending)

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