Oregon Spotted Frog hunting in the Fraser Valley over spring break

Two 17-year-olds from Chilliwack were hired by Fraser Valley Conservancy to shadow a junior biologist in the field

Spencer Goss

Spencer Goss

It was a muddy but memorable stint for two conservation-minded Chilliwack teens.

Sasha Tuttle and Spencer Goss spent two weeks over spring break combing the local wetlands for the endangered Oregon Spotted Frog.

The 17-year-olds were hired by Fraser Valley Conservancy to shadow junior biologist Aleesha Switzer and conduct exploratory searches in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Agassiz, and Hope.

They were given training and equipment to check traps, survey habitat and count all the amphibians they could find.

“We were looking for areas that seemed like they would make good habitat, realizing that there really aren’t a lot of these spaces left,” said Switzer.

It’s actually been a “wonderful” year for OSF breeding, she noted, with the warmer than average temperatures, and they’ve recorded some the highest numbers to date for the critically endangered frogs.

The frog population is down to about 400 breeding adults.

“In one spot where the students were trapping, on Seabird Island in the Chaplin wetland, we found evidence of successful breeding after putting in new frogs,” she said.

That is all good news, but the recent warming trend also has a downside.

“The warm weather and especially the mild winters mean less water, and so the egg masses are at risk of drying out.”

They added water in some spots to keep egg masses hydrated, after recording a 16-cm drop in water levels in some spots.

Climate change is impacting the numbers of the OSF, which only remains in a few pockets of the Fraser Valley.

The project resonated deeply with the environmentally concerned youth.

“It definitely was a cool experience,” said Spencer Goss.

“Conservation is something I’m passionate about and this fuelled the fire. I definitely feel changed.”

The experience made him realize he really wants to be part of the “movement” towards environmental conservation. He was paid for the work, but would have done it as a volunteer.

“We need to preserve these species,” he said. “But it’s not just about the frogs disappearing, it represents the destruction of the wetlands all across the Fraser Valley.”

Sasha Tuttle underlined that people don’t realize that these sensitive frogs are a “keystone” species, and if threatened, it will affect others down the line in terms of trying to maintain biodiversity.

Tuttle also enjoyed learning more about the OSF habitat, which it turns out is ideal if the water is shallow, and there is lots of vegetation around, like a ditch for example.

“I do hope when people read this, and hear about the work, that they’ll be more open-minded about the need for conservation,” she said. “It’s one big chain, so the loss of habitat and the frogs are a warning sign basically.”

The students were “a huge help” on the FVC project, counting the frogs and other amphibians and looking for egg masses, Switzer said.

The whole project marks a critical shift “in how we think about environmental issues as a community,” she said.

“Sometimes it may seem silly to do all this work for a single frog population until you see just how many species benefit from having wetlands. It’s everything from birds, to bugs, otters and bears.”

Hiring the young people had a specific purpose.

“We’re looking for that next voice, as up-and-coming leaders of Chilliwack, to become the spokesperson for these frogs,” Switzer said. “My dream is to have created two frog people.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FIle
Agassiz-Harrison Lions continue stocking tradition

Club is looking for a variety of items

Read the full 2019-2020 annual report report online at www.seabirdisland.ca.
Seabird Island looks back in 2019-20 report

Highlights include COVID response, new development, upgrades

LEFT: Krista Macinnis, with a red handprint across her face that symbolizes the silencing of First Nations people, displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
RIGHT: Abbotsford School District Kevin Godden says the district takes responsibility for the harm the assignment caused.
Abbotsford school district must make amends for harmful residential school assignment: superintendent

‘The first step is to unreservedly apologize for the harm … caused to our community’: Kevin Godden

File photo
Outdoor recreation generates close to $1 billion annually in Fraser Valley: report

Camping, hiking and sportfishing generate the most spending, report finds

A new Sardis secondary school logo designed by a former student, Jason Roberts. (Facebook photo)
Chilliwack’s Sardis secondary unveils new logo done in Coast Salish style

The new-look Falcon is meant strengthen connections between Indigenous students and their school

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

Elissa McLaren broke her left elbow in the Sept. 20, 2020 collision. (Submitted)
Surviving victims of fatal crash in Fraser Valley asking for help leading up to Christmas

‘This accident has taken a larger toll financially, mentally and physically than originally intended’

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld (left) and former BCTF president Glen Hansman (right).
BC Court of Appeal left to walk tightrope of freedom of expression in Neufeld-Hansman case

Is defamation lawsuit aimed at stifling free expression or does the defamation hinder free speech?

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Most Read