SAVING THE FOOTHILL YELLOW-LEGGED FROG
The foothill yellow-legged frog is a striking stream-dwelling amphibian with a distinctive lemon-yellow color under its legs. It can be found in Pacific drainages from the upper reaches of the Willamette River system, Oregon, all the way south to the Upper San Gabriel River in Los Angeles County, California — also inhabiting streams on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in habitats as high as 6,300 feet. This attractive frog can be gray, brown or reddish on its back.
Once thriving across their range, now foothill yellow-legged frogs have disappeared from more than half their historical localities due to a very long list of threats: dams, water development and diversions, timber harvest, mining, livestock grazing, roads and urbanization, marijuana cultivation, off-road vehicles, climate change, pollution, invasive species and disease. The species has today disappeared across the area from Santa Barbara County to San Diego County, and its populations have declined severely in the southern Sierra Nevada, on the central California and Southern California coasts, in the Bay Area, and in central Oregon. All these areas may contain distinct populations or subspecies of yellow-legged frogs — each of which is special in its own right.
The Center won protection for foothill yellow-legged frogs under California's state Endangered Species Act in late 2019, following our petition to protect them as "threatened" throughout the state.
We also petitioned to protect these frog in 2012 under the federal Endangered Species Act. They still haven't won that protection, but after we filed a lawsuit against the Service in 2016 for dragging its feet in the protection process, that same year we reached a settlement requiring listing by 2020. Finally, in late 2021 the Service proposed protection for four of the most imperiled populations, proposing to list the Southern Sierra Nevada and Southern California Coast populations as endangered and the in the North Feather River and Central Calfornia Coast populations as threatened.
We're also working to protect yellow-legged frog habitat throughout California. We do that by pushing for reined-in pesticide use, helping reform the state's fish stocking policies, and challenging harmful land-management practices on federal lands like logging, grazing and mining.