Occurring only in the Northwest, the Oregon spotted frog appears to have been extirpated (made locally extinct) from more than three-quarters of its former range. Historically, these frogs found the habitat they prefer – open water with some shallow areas and aquatic plants – in the flood plains of larger bodies of water. As humans have controlled flooding and introduced invasive species, suitable habitat has decreased.
Conservationists at the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) are working to create and maintain suitable habitat for this frog, a candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. At Mima Creek Preserve, a conservation area adjacent to the Black River owned by the Nature Conservancy and managed by CNLM, conservationists created five acres of open water ponds and planted native emergent vegetation on what was formerly agricultural or grazed lands. CNLM also works to protect the open water areas from invasive species such as reed canary grass, which can quickly encroach on the ponds.
So far, monitoring indicates the area is a magnet for many native amphibians and reptiles, in addition to other wildlife, although no Oregon spotted frogs have yet been sighted. CNLM plans ongoing monitoring of all amphibians and reptiles and hopes one day to release captive-reared Oregon spotted frogs into the area if they do not return of their own accord.