2023: Tipping Point for Amphibians and Reptiles Throughout the United States

2023 was a banner year for protecting amphibians and reptiles across the US, and thanks to our incredible community, 2024 is shaping up to be even more impactful. 

Together with you and the rest of our community and partners, we’re undertaking the conservation of amphibians and reptiles at a larger scale than has ever been tackled before. And the need is urgent. Hundreds of vulnerable amphibian and reptile species are at a tipping point. 

Although amphibians and reptiles are facing a variety of threats across the country, overcoming those challenges usually boils down to two factors – improving ecosystems and increasing population sizes. To address them, we implement our national strategy locally in hundreds of locations throughout the US. These places are called Priority Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Areas, or PARCAs, and we’ve identified more than 300 PARCAs throughout the US, selected for their diversity and densities of amphibians and reptiles.

All year long, we made a difference for amphibians and reptiles through targeted conservation actions and habitat restoration in dozens of PARCAs. Throughout the country, we worked to help safeguard species on the brink, and we also practiced proactive measures to keep common species common. With your help, we’ll continue to bring species back from the tipping point and increase their odds in 2024 and beyond.

Hope and Progress in 2023

Our 2023 accomplishments included:

  • We carried out strategic efforts for amphibians and reptiles in 12 US states and had boots on the ground in 20 PARCAs.

  • To provide suitable habitat and connect species’ populations, we conducted large- and small-scale ecosystem restoration in PARCAs in Florida, Arizona, Virginia, Arizona, New Mexico, and other states. In Florida alone, we removed 167 acres of invasive vegetation.

  • For the fifth year, we headstarted the rare gopher frog in the Francis Marion PARCA, South Carolina, alongside our partners at the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Headstarting is a technique that involves hatching eggs and raising tadpoles past their most vulnerable stages and then releasing them as young frogs back into the wild. We released 460 headstarted gopher frogs this spring.

  • To protect one of the most vulnerable amphibians in the Southeastern US, we launched a new headstarting program for the Threatened frosted flatwoods salamander in Georgia in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Army. In the fall, we collected more than 250 eggs for this trailblazing program.

  • In Mississippi, we worked with our partners from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, state agencies, US Forest Service, and others to delineate five new PARCAs, including one of the most important areas for reptiles and amphibians in the nation because of the large number of endemic species there.

  • We brought our community together for the second Matthew Rothstein Annual Bioblitz in Tucson, Arizona, on August 12. For 24 hours, more than 70 participants made 483 observations of 205 species in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.

  • We helped shine a light on overlooked species by garnering press in national media outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and Scripps, as well as several local publications around the country.

Looking Forward: Goals for 2024

In 2024, we will:

  • Release headstarted frosted flatwoods salamanders in Georgia and work with partners to expand headstarting efforts in Florida

  • Launch a comprehensive program to protect the Endangered Houston toad in Texas that will involve collaborations with private landowners and agencies to restore Post Oak Savannah habitat and implement population-increasing measures

  • Begin an innovative new program to recover the Threatened Red Hills salamander in Alabama

  • Restore five wetlands along the Blue Ridge Parkway to support bog turtles

  • Along with our partners, expand the gopher frog headstarting program in the Francis Marion PARCA, South Carolina

  • Launch western PARCA programs in California, Nevada, and Arizona focused on surveying priority species and threats

  • Develop PARCAs in new states, including Utah, Idaho, and Alaska

  • Expand efforts for rare priority species, including pine snakes, in the Francis Marion PARCA, South Carolina

  • Develop a collaborative program with the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society

  • And achieve much more

Can you make a contribution to support these efforts? We need our amazing community to accomplish these goals and help ensure a bright future for amphibians and reptiles. We’re grateful for your generous gifts of time, resources, and partnership to make it happen.