Frog totals in the wild jump by 1,700

[Source: Sierra Vista Herald] – The Arizona wilderness became a bit more populated this week, thanks to a team of biologists from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Phoenix Zoo’s Conservation Center. 

More than 1,700 threatened Chiricahua leopard frogs were released into the Tonto National Forest. The frogs, including adults and tadpoles, were released at multiple sites in the forest near Payson. The frogs were raised from eggs collected near Young. Additionally, 100 frogs that were bred and raised at the zoo were released last week near Camp Verde in the Coconino National Forest.  

“Thanks in part to Game and Fish’s Heritage Fund, we are making great strides in re-establishing Chiricahua leopard frogs to their native habitat in Arizona, and this release marks a significant accomplishment and milestone for the recovery effort,” said Michael Sredl of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Our goal is to work through partnerships to preclude the need to list species on the federal endangered species list, or in cases where they are already listed, to recover them to a point where they can be removed from the list.”

 Until the 1970s, Chiricahua leopard frogs lived in ponds and creeks across central and southeastern Arizona, but populations have declined significantly since then due to drought, disease, habitat loss and threats from non-native species. They were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2002.  A recovery team was created to help bring the species back from the brink of extinction. The team developed a recovery plan with the goal of recovering the species to the point where it can be removed from the endangered species list. The plan includes releases of captive-bred frogs, habitat restoration, and monitoring.

Arizona State Parks Board looks at ways to cut expenses

Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area, Show Low

[Source: Mike Leiby, White Mountain Independent] — The Arizona State Parks Governing Board recently announced that budget cuts per the state Legislature on Jan. 31 has forced the cancelation of at least one major event in the state and possibly some park closures. The only state park in the immediate area is Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area, which according to park officials, is pretty safe at this time because of its unique status as a tripartide agency park.  In contrast to most other state parks, which survive solely on the state parks system money, Fool Hollow Lake is the result of a partnership between the Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Forest Service, and Arizona State Parks and has additional funding sources which gives it greater protection, said Arizona State Parks spokeswoman Ellen Bilbrey.

For those wondering if Woodland Lake Park might be in line for possible closure, there is no worry about that in connection with State Parks budgets because it is on Forest Service land and the use agreement between the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside and the Forest Service is not affected by State Parks system budget cuts.  However, other parks statewide under the auspices of the State Parks system might not be spared. State park officials recently announced that the Civil War in the Southwest event held for the last 20 years at Picacho Peak State Park is being canceled this year.

Since the announcement there has been a level of outcry from the public and reenactment community to keep the event open.  There is even an effort from within Arizona’s reenactment community to move the event to Pioneer Living History Museum in Phoenix (at least for this year) in an attempt to keep it alive.  Picacho Peak Park Director Rob Young said that the possibility of reenactors finding a permanent new location like Pioneer Living History Museum is exactly what he feared might happen.  “Even though the site at Picacho is not available, the Southwest Civil War Association will put on the event at Pioneer Living History Museum,” said Joe Spikes, the event coordinator for the Southwest Civil War Association.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Cultural sites at U.S. forests threatened

[Source: Arizona Daily Sun, Associated Press] — The U.S. Forest Service lacks a clear legal mandate and the financial ability to protect thousands of historic sites and buildings on national forest lands from development, vandalism and other threats, a prominent preservation group says.  The nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation released a report Thursday saying only 1,936 of 325,000 Forest Service sites identified as historically or culturally significant are on the National Register of Historic Places.  “We think that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  We think there could be as many as 2 million sites,” trust president Richard Moe said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

At-risk treasures include American Indian pueblos and sacred sites, petroglyphs, Revolutionary and Civil War battlegrounds, trails used by the Lewis and Clark expedition and Forest Service lookout towers.  About 80 percent of the 193 million acres the agency manages in 44 states and Puerto Rico haven’t been surveyed for such sites, according to the Washington, D.C.-based trust.  The National Forest System: Cultural Resources at Risk says the Forest Service, unlike other federal land management agencies, has no statute that specifically mandates historic or archaeological preservation as part of its mission.

Another issue is funding.  Less than 1 percent of the Forest Service’s $4.4 billion budget goes to heritage resource programs, according to the report.  Nearly half its budget is spent on fires, including fire suppression and decreasing wildfire risk.  Threats to historic and cultural sites include off-road vehicle use, oil and gas development in the West, livestock grazing, logging and a resurgence in uranium, gold and other hard-rock mining, Moe said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]