Students take action to protect “Aurora the Lonely Frog*”. In early 2016, as part of our Species at Risk in The Classroom program, Pamela Zevit was working on an extended mentoring program with Eagle Mountain Middle School in Anmore. The school is located near the border with Port Moody and Coquitlam and is within the Mossom Creek watershed and sits right next to Bert Flinn Park. This urbanizing region of the northwest part of the Tri-cities sits at an important wilderness interface, providing habitat for a number of amphibians at risk including Coastal Tailed Frog, Western Toad and Northern Red-legged Frog. As part of the work with the school Pamela told the story of how road networks are a serious threat to amphibians like our at-risk frogs because they fragment habitat, introduce toxic runoff and create barriers to migrating adults and ‘toadlets’ and ‘froglets’. In some instances such as the Sea-Sky Highway near Whistler, without careful monitoring, wildlife underpasses and exclusion fences, local amphibian populations can be doomed to extirpation from ongoing vehicle mortality and an inability to reach spawning sites and winter hibernation sites ("hibernacula").
Grade six students, concerned over the effects that a proposed major arterial road connector would have on their local red-legged frogs initiated a campaign and petition to raise awareness about their concerns. The plan is to present Anmore City Council with the petition. While the long-term plans for more intensive development and associated road building in the area remain uncertain, through the work of the SCCP youth in the community were provided with the necessary conservation science and resources to raise their voice and craft a strong argument for taking a precautionary, conservation-based approach to land use.
For the follow up article written by Ann Marie Oktaba, local species at risk champion and Anmore resident (soon to be a species at risk champion in Mission!) see this Tri-city news op-ed.
*The scientific name for the Northern Red-legged Frog is Rana aurora, “Aurora” is the name given to the main character in the SCCP’s endangered species tale entitled “The Lonely Frog”.
Image courtesy Grade 6 students Eagle Mountain Middle School