Stream-breeding Amphibians

Tailed frogs

Tailed frogs grow legs and metamorph into adults after spending about three years in cold mountain streams. Photograph by Ryan O’Donnell.

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.

Stream-breeding and terrestrial amphibians are listed as other species of concern in the Cedar River Municipal Watershed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Stream-breeding amphibians are found at all elevations through the watershed, from mainstem river habitat to tiny headwater stream systems. These animals play an important role in the ecology of our stream systems, serving as both predator and prey. Terrestrial amphibians are also found throughout the watershed using many different forest and riparian habitats.

Under the HCP, habitats necessary to stream-breeding and terrestrial amphibians are protected and enhanced. The watershed stretches from lower elevation forests to the crest of the Cascade Mountain range, providing a wide variety of habitat types for these animals.

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


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 perennial streams where amphibians might breed
  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 breeding streams


What are we doing for stream-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 streams, riparian areas, wetlands, meadows, and forests from invasive species allows these ecosystems to continue to support amphibian populations. View more information on habitat protection.

Aquatic and Riparian Habitat Restoration
Stream habitat restoration includes replacing Large Woody Debris (LWD) in streams. 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 streams and riparian forests. View more information on our aquatic and riparian habitat restoration program.

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 improvements and decommissioning.

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 program.