In 2013, a local resident of Sauvie Island left home on a rainy, unseasonably warm evening in January and found Harborton Road covered with frogs, many of which had already been squished. A distressing and heartbreaking sight. This population of Northern red-legged frogs clearly needed help in order to continue their instinctive journey to the Harborton Wetland a mile away to breed and deposit their egg masses.
The still waters of ponds, marshes or stream pools are essential for northern red-legged frog breeding habitat. PC: Burke Museum
Soon after a group of volunteers met with representatives of Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services, and Forest Park Conservancy to determine a plan of action. Biologists recommended catching the frogs by hand and transporting them on foot to the wetland.
That effort turned into the Harborton Frog Shuttle, an intensive all-volunteer effort to save a remnant population of Northern red-legged frogs in Forest Park (near Linnton in NW Portland) by shuttling them safely in buckets across highway 30, two local roads, and two sets of railroad tracks to the Harborton wetland where they breed. They do the same for the frogs during their return trip home.
Photo from Harborton Frog Shuttle team member, Ashley Smithers, of a frog intercepted at night in January, 2016.
To get there, these red-legged frogs have to cross Harborton Drive, Highway 30, two sets of railroad tracks and Marina Way. Unless volunteers are there to aide, hundreds of this population get squished mostly by car traffic on the busy roads. Frogs head down to the wetland from late December through February and then head back up through the end of March. The Harborton Wetland is the only wetland of its size left along a stretch of the river that used to have hundreds of ponds and wetlands that would have provided suitable breeding habitat for frogs.
Harborton Road is a quiet road, with just a few houses, and residents generally drive very slowly and carefully since they don't want to hit the frogs. However, it is difficult to see the frogs on the road, especially at night.
The Harborton Frog Shuttle now has 40 dedicated volunteers and transported more than 650 frogs between Forest Park and Portland General Electric’s Harborton wetland property in 2015. Road mortality for the frogs is down significantly and an egg mass survey of the wetland shows successful breeding is taking place. The long-term goal of this project is to create pond habitat, capable of supporting the needs of red-legged frogs, west of Highway 30. Until then, Frog Shuttle volunteers are doing everything they can to conserve this population. Read up on the Harborton Frog Shuttle project here, or get the inside scoop by visiting the Harborton frog blog here.
In 2016, a total of 84 volunteers helped our red-legged friends to and from their Harborton habitat. More volunteers are always needed to ensure the livelihood of this species.
GET INVOLVED, SUPPORT, VOLUNTEER
Great news! There are several ways you can get involved with this project...
Attend our up-coming event
Wednesday, March 22, we are hosting a presentation about this very project. We want to see you there for a fun, family-friendly talk about the Harborton Frog Shuttle, the Northern red-legged frog, and their habitat.
We will also be providing refreshments at this event! Join us March 22nd, and learn how you can help conserve Oregon’s Harborton Frog species.
Harborton Frog Presentation Wednesday, March 22, 2017 Doors open at 6:00 PM Program starts at 6:30 PM REI 1405 NW Johnson St #150 Portland, OR 97209
LEARN MORE HERE
Support the project
The Foundation is supporting this project and we hope you will join us by making your tax-deductible gift to the Harborton Frog Fund online.
If you would like to mail in a check made payable to "Oregon Wildlife Foundation” with a memo line note of “Harborton Frog Fund”.
To get involved as a volunteer or if you would like to request more information, please contact us.