Traffic Is Driving A Newt Massacre in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Citizen scientists tracking roadkill on Alma Bridge Road have found thousands of dead newts this season.

https://baynature.org/2019/02/06/traffic-is-driving-a-newt-massacre-in-the-santa-cruz-mountains/

Posted by biohexx1 biohexx1, February 07, 2019 03:00 AM

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Many thanks to everyone who has supported this effort. However, I'm afraid the battle has just begun. Now that people are aware, we need to get Santa Clara County Roads to do something about it. The government works very slowly, and so far nothing has been done to stop the carnage. We have a couple more months of newt migration season, and I'm afraid a couple thousand more newts may die on this road before the end of March. I'm committed to follow through with this until the end of newt migration season. This is an ugly situation and I've thought about quitting about a hundred times, but someone has to advocate for the newts. I'm guessing this type of thing is happening throughout the Santa Cruz mountains. Our efforts may help other communities take faster action to save the newts.

@kueda (thanks for letting me use iNat to bring much-needed attention to this issue!), @merav, @graysquirrel, @sambiology, @newtpatrol, @catchang, @brandonh1, @tom-kirschey-nabu, @bradmoon, @m_aniket, @sea-kangaroo, @anudibranchmom, @gregpauly, @dominic, @karenscherrer, @jilliankern. @shannonbuttimer

Posted by truthseqr about 1 month ago (Flag)
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I want to thank Anne for stepping up and taking a conservation stand. Starting from a few observations, she has documented the numbers of auto- killed newts for this season and uncovered the design failures (and one could say, our human failures) of an old county road system when faced with increased auto trips and development pressures.

Anne- as you find who in the Santa Clara County letters should be addressed to, will you post that info? Do you or an allied conservation group have a web site up that offers actionable suggestions?

If you and the community in the area have design solutions for retrofitting the roads, I can offer some assistance if it’s helpful. Other than political pressure as a citizen, mapping or graphic conceptualizing are skills I can volunteer.

-Cat

Posted by catchang about 1 month ago (Flag)
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Anne, can we share on here the list of items that you forwarded to me on why the local government agency stated nothing could be done about the problem?

Posted by biohexx1 about 1 month ago (Flag)
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@catchang, right now I'm not sure what agency to write letters to. As soon as I find out, I'll post it.

@biohexx1, thank you so much for co-authoring the article and putting me in touch with people who can help.

Here are some of the reasons I've been given by various folks for why the usual mitigations may not work in this situation:

1. Road closure - would adversely impact residents (but they have an alternate route to the highway) and businesses, e.g. Los Gatos Rowing Club, Vulcan Materials quarry.
2. "Bucket brigades" to help newts across the road would be too dangerous on that road on rainy nights and the duration of the migration would dampen enthusiasm for the effort.
3. Signage: people may pay attention to new signs at first, but over time they tend to ignore signs (or steal them).
4. Under road culverts: some exist, but they have as much as 10 ft. drops that don't help on the return trip.
5. Netting to herd the newts toward the culverts - only works for short sections of road, otherwise newts get disoriented and don't make it to the vernal pools.
6. Highway 17 wildlife passage - small animals are not helped - that project is focusing on large animals like pumas and deer.

There might be others. I'll check my notes.

Posted by truthseqr about 1 month ago (Flag)
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@truthseqr You're doing an incredible job! I can't imagine the mental burden of seeking out the details of the ongoing tragedy and carnage. If political pressure turns out to be efficient, do let me know who to send a letter to.

Posted by jilliankern about 1 month ago (Flag)
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Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society (SCVAS) and Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter have teamed up to write a letter to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors asking for immediate action on this issue.

Here are the email addresses for the Board of Supervisors (the Lexington Reservoir area is in Mike Wasserman's district): mike.wasserman@bos.sccgov.org; cindy.chavez@bos.sccgov.org; dave.cortese@bos.sccgov.org; supervisor.ellenberg@bos.sccgov.org; joe.simitian@bos.sccgov.org; kira.valenta@bos.sccgov.org

Posted by truthseqr about 1 month ago (Flag)
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Should we all write an e-mail to them?

Posted by biohexx1 about 1 month ago (Flag)
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Yes - that would be helpful. I'm working on an Alert statement with the Environmental Advocate at SCVAS which will give suggested text for the email, but that hasn't been completed and approved yet.

Posted by truthseqr about 1 month ago (Flag)
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Anne, I am truly speechless. Every time it rains, I cringe at the thought of you out there counting the tiny corpses. For the past 5 years I have been hiking SA21 I can't remember seeing this many dead newts on the road, but then again, maybe I wasn't paying attention.
These little newts deserve our attention. I will be writing letters today. As I am off all day. Thank you again for all your work. You are amazing. I miss our little pond!

Posted by karenscherrer about 1 month ago (Flag)
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Anne, please call me, asap. 510-305-3155

Posted by karenscherrer about 1 month ago (Flag)
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Posted by biohexx1 7 days ago (Flag)

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