Frog Docents

The foothill yellow-legged frog, Rana boylii, is native to parts of the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed and is listed as both a federal and state species of special concern, which means its population is declining. The foothill yellow-legged frog has disappeared from more than 45% of its historic range in Oregon and California due to:

  • Habitat loss and degradation
  • Disease
  • Introduction of exotic predators
MMWD needs help from the community to stop the decline and help restore a healthy population within the watershed. Each year, we train docents to monitor habitat conditions and to educate hikers at Little Carson Falls, a popular hiking destination located about five miles outside of Fairfax, and a breeding area for the foothill yellow-legged frog. Docents monitor the falls between March and June each year, when the eggs and tadpoles are at their most vulnerable.

Frog Docent Role

Volunteer docents are asked to commit to three four-hour shifts between February and June. No previous experience or special knowledge is required. Frog docents must be at least 18 years old and capable of strenuous hiking.

Becoming a frog docent is a great way to get outdoors, have an extraordinary volunteer experience, and contribute to public understanding and protection of this native species. Yearly training is offered in early spring.

2017 Season Summary

This spring 18 docents (7 new and 11 returning) spent a total of 239 hours volunteering at the falls. Out of 58 possible weekend shifts, 62% were covered. During this time, docents observed 1,293 visitors and over 147 dogs. Over the 14-week timeframe, docents were able to share information on the FYLF with 1,100 of the 1,293 visitors they encountered. 

Over the years, the Frog Docent Program has enjoyed great success. The Frog Docent Program began in 2005. In the past thirteen seasons docents have volunteered over 2,800 hours to the program. Through their efforts, 8,534 hikers have been informed about the vulnerability of frogs and their habitat at Little Carson Falls. 

We owe a great deal of thanks to our passionate and dedicated volunteers, past and present. Without them, the welfare of the frogs and their habitat would be in great jeopardy and many visitors would have come to enjoy the falls, but not known that they could have been harming this critical and sensitive habitat. 

We are immensely appreciative of our 2017 docents: Peter Suri, Cindi Darling, Frederic Leist, Janet Bodle, Lorri Gong, Jim Garlock, Rob Ruiz, Amber Lancaster, James Fair, Ethan Fair (son), Rich Cimino, Bill Bain, Tracy Matthes, Raine Matthes (daughter), Clara Cardillo, Maddie Halloran, Monica Tonty, and Marisol Da Camara. Thanks to all of you for your time and support!

Your efforts have ensured that future generations, both amphibian and human alike, will continue to flourish.

View the full report prepared by AmeriCorps Watershed Steward Brenna Fowler: Frog Docent Season Summary 2017.