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Special Project: Pacific Chorus Frog Habitat Revitalization

In 2013 – 2014, Kids in Parks and the students of Visitation Valley (VVMS) and Herbert Hoover (HHMS) Middle Schools will engage in a special project: we will revitalize neglected areas of the school grounds measuring more than 2,500 square feet, transforming them into a thriving habitat for local native plants and animals. The totem species of this project is the Pacific Chorus frog, once found throughout San Francisco but now limited to one naturally occurring population. The essential components of its habitat are small, shallow, ephemeral ponds for mating during the rainy season, and brushy areas of low growing native plants in which it lives during the dry season. Over the past five years, Kids in Parks has already successfully created six ponds at VVMS and HHMS. For the last five winters, frogs have returned to the ponds and reproduced. Photos of existing frog pond construction are shown below.

Our new project site at VVMS is shown in the aerial plan below, with dedicated areas for Pacific Chorus frog revitalization and native grasses restoration. These areas are located at the entrance to the school immediately adjacent to and visible from McLaren Park, ensuring that the project will have a beneficial impact on the entire community by allowing park visitors to clearly see and enjoy the revitalized areas. Future sites for an outdoor classroom, lichen habitat, and geology lab are also identified in the aerial plan.

Specific details of our new project plan are to:

  1. Remove all non-native plants from the project area. Exceptions may be made for those non-native plants that are not invasive and do provide useful habitat for the totem species and/or its associates.
  2. Install a rhizome barrier between the restoration area and the adjacent garden to prevent the encroachment of invasive crabgrass, as well as plant propagation tables (sketch shown below).
  3. Create five ponds: excavate shallow depressions, install edging, install pond liner (impervious membrane that prevents the water from draining out of the pond), build pond covers.
  4. Install six native plant "clusters" and mulch.
  5. Install interpretive signage.
  6. Install drip irrigation to native plant clusters.
  7. Over-seed area with native grasses and wildflowers.
  8. Release Pacific Chorus frog eggs and tadpoles.


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