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Here you can find all the latest Audubon International news! From the great environmental efforts of our members, to where we will be next, to helpful tips you can apply at your golf course, you can find it all here.
  • 05/02/2016 1:17 PM | Tara Donadio (Administrator)

    “Do I need to work with a consultant to become a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary?”

    This is a common question we receive regarding the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses (ACSP).

    The short answer is: No. Consultants are not required for a course to become a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.

    The ACSP for golf is an environmental education program with a certification component. As individuals work through the Site Assessment and Environmental Plan, put the plan into action, collect backup documentation, and develop a case study, they are on an educational path that not only changes the way a property is managed, but also the way the people involved in the program think about property management. Hiring an outside person to complete the certification process reduces staff involvement and learning, and can therefore diminish the biggest benefit of the program.

    Benefits of DIY (Do it yourself):

    One of our primary goals is keeping costs associated with the program low. We do not require consultants as this would increase program costs. We strive to keep the program fee low and do not have certification requirements that require large investments in infrastructure.

    We have worked with several members who have had success using a consultant. However, we find that those members who successfully use a consultant are the members who are very involved in the process.

    We have also worked with members who have used a consultant and have not had long-term success. Sometimes a consultant comes in, does all the work, and leaves. No one is left on site that has any ownership in the environmental program, and it subsequently falters. We want our members to be successful for the long term and having dedicated staff and golfers on site is part of that success.

    Sometimes, consultants do not follow our certification process. We have set up the certification materials to be as efficient as possible for our members to complete and for ourselves to review. If a consultant changes the looks or format of the submitted certification materials, or gives us information we do not ask for, it slows down our review time substantially. We are a small non-profit organization with a growing membership, and we simply cannot afford to extend the time needed to review materials.

    Benefits of hiring a consultant:

    In some cases, hiring a consultant is a good option. We do stress that the ACSP is not a one person task, which is why we look for each member to set up a diverse Resource Advisory Group made up of staff, golfers, and local experts. Conducting a wildlife inventory, collecting water quality data, performing an energy audit, creating educational signs, and choosing native plants are just a few of the projects that our members might not have the experience to complete. While Resource Advisory Groups are usually made up of volunteers, hired consultants are often very effective as part of these groups. A local consultant can bring expertise and will often be able to connect your environmental efforts with other local programs and incentives.

    Additionally, if your property is having significant environmental issues or is under heavy criticism, it can be a wise investment to have a professional gather some of your environmental information, such as conducting your water testing or performing an irrigation audit, and make recommendations based on their expertise.  Make sure you hire a consultant with technical expertise who can provide scientifically credible data that meet industry and regulatory standards.

    We encourage any consultants who would like to work with golf courses on the certification process to contact us. This partnership usually works best for all parties when there is a spirit of collaboration and a communal willingness to share our educational philosophy, follow our certification process, and help set up an active, resourceful, and dedicated Resource Advisory Group.

    For our members, we want to emphasize that a consultant is not required for certification. We want you and your staff to be involved in the process, as this results in dedication to, and investment in, the long-term success of your environmental work. If a consultant fits within your budget and can help you meet your specific sustainability goals, feel free to explore the option and to contact us with any questions. 

    Please reach out to us at anytime!

    Tara Donadio, Director of Cooperative Sanctuary Programs

  • 04/22/2016 9:09 AM | Anonymous

    Last month, I facilitated a symposium on urban wildlife at the Northeast Association of Fish & Wildlife Agency (NEAFWA)’s 2016 conference. This annual event brings together Fish & Wildlife staff, academic professors, researchers, and students, and non-profit wildlife conservation scientists. Every year, wildlife colleagues discuss conservation topics such as fisheries management, wildlife connectivity, and habitat restoration. 

    Urban habitat and wildlife conservation are relatively minor topics within the conservation community, at least until more recently. When proposing this symposium, I expected to have difficulty finding speakers and an engaged audience. However, I was heartened and inspired to receive sincere interest and support for the urban themes presented in the symposium. Topics ranged from urban coyotes, to conservation planning in downtown New York City, to habitats on golf courses across the Northeast. 

    Audubon International has long existed at the fringe of the traditional environmental movement. Our mission, brilliantly conceived nearly 30 years ago by Ron Dodson, was to embrace the need for developed landscapes to reduce their impact on nature, provide clean water and habitat, and support wildlife in settings where people have altered the ecology. In the past five to ten years, it has been encouraging to watch major institutions adopt the need to think and act more sustainably by implementing business and conservation strategies which focus on environmental protection, social justice, and economic vitality. Universities are adopting sustainability programs, offering more courses and majors to help our next generation achieve these goals. Major corporations now have sustainability staff and major programs that reward achievements in environmental and resource conservation. Foundations and agency funding are accepting these approaches for protecting and conserving resources.

    In our growing role within the conservation movement, Audubon International explores the many ways in which developed landscapes and properties can contribute to a healthy ecosystem. We are thrilled to see an increasing recognition of this need to incorporate human developments into a stewardship ethic. Emerging strategies for protecting basic ecological services in human settings are not only gaining acceptance among conservation biologists, they are now a business imperative.

    Over the course of the next month, people worldwide will be celebrating Earth Day, International Migratory Bird Day, and Endangered Species Day. I am sure I am missing a few notable “days”, but heck, every day is Earth Day, right? As you celebrate Earth Day (or Earth Week, or Earth Month), I encourage you to expand your vision of what it means to protect nature. People need trees, birds, and green space both in the mountains on the horizon and in the neighborhoods and cities where they work, live, and play. 

    Doug Bechtel

  • 04/08/2016 10:42 AM | Anonymous

    Audubon International is seeking an Environmental Research Intern(s). The interns will be asked to work between 10 and 20 hours per week for 10 to 12 weeks. The interns will have the option of working in our Troy, New York office or working from home, with preference given to those who are able to attend weekly or bi-weekly in-person meetings. This is an unpaid internship, but interns may receive a small stipend at the conclusion of the internship.

    To apply for the internship please send a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Joanna Nadeau at along with references. Please put the job title and your name in the subject of the email. Applications are due on Friday, April 29.

    Environmental Research Intern


    The Environmental Research Intern will report to the Director of Community Programs and compile, analyze, and summarize information collected from community surveys and certification documentation as case studies and research reports. The intern projects can be tailored to reflect specific strengths and skill sets. Possible projects include:

    • Summarizing community surveys and sustainability assessments.
    • Researching regional plans and publicly available environmental data for specified communities.
    • Researching and writing case studies on community sustainability processes or projects.
    • Analyzing and comparing sustainability indicators data collected by communities.
    Required Qualifications
    • Current college student or recent graduate in the field of environmental science/environmental policy/planning/conservation/journalism.
    • Experience researching and writing articles or papers on environmental topics.
    • Passion for our organization's mission.

    Desired Qualifications

    • Experience with nonprofit organizations.

  • 01/08/2016 9:11 AM | Anonymous

    Golf Courses Taking Key Steps to Become Good Neighbors

    By Lisa D. Mickey

    This piece was published on LINKS Golf Magazine's website on January 6, 2016.

    When golfers think of golf courses, they envision expansive green spaces with ponds, trees, and native wildlife. But often when non-golfers think of these same grassy areas, some view golf courses as water gluttons and excessive abusers of fertilizers and chemicals.

    Fortunately for both sides, modern course management has demonstrated a willingness to minimize harmful substances, reduce water usage, and scale back manicured turf on these courses to better mesh the game with the natural environment. And now when both golfers and non-golfers wonder if golf courses can be good neighbors in the environment, the perception is more often a resounding yes.

    According to Audubon International, an environmental nonprofit that works with golf courses and various industries to improve environmental management, between 10–15 percent of courses in Canada and the United States are members of environmental programs. The organization (no relation to the National Audubon Society) has worked with more than 3,000 golf courses in 30 nations taking steps to conserve water, reduce chemical use, and improve wildlife habitat.

    “Managing a golf course with environmental standards is not easy,” says Doug Bechtel, Audubon International Executive Director. “It requires the facility to commit to conservation best practices, like water quality, animal habitat, and naturalizing areas not in play—none of which have an impact on playability.

    “We find that for courses making this commitment, the payback can be significant, and those courses are considered great neighbors in their communities,” Bechtel adds.

    Mark Johnson, associate director of environmental programs at the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), says his organization provides professional education and resources for course superintendents to manage the land while “using resources wisely and protecting the environment.

    “Golf courses exist and rely upon a healthy environment,” says Johnson. “Courses implementing agronomic and environmental best-management practices are valuable green spaces in any watershed.”

    Even beyond how and where grass grows, course superintendents have become more focused on replacing invasives with native species. Craig Weyandt, superintendent at The Moorings Yacht & Country Club in Vero Beach, Fla., removed a mile-long hedge of Brazilian pepper and extracted invasive Australian pines in exchange for planting more than 800 native plant species on his course.

    He also allowed his lake-bank grasses to grow 12–18 inches high, rather than mowing to two inches. By letting native lakeside plants grow, Weyandt created buffer zones around water hazards to avoid chemical runoff into ponds, while also creating wildlife habitats for fish, birds, and butterflies.

    “I think we took what we had and made it better,” says Weyandt, who has led wildlife tours for members and guests on his course for 10 years.

    For natural mosquito control, Anthony Williams, former grounds director at Stone Mountain Golf Club in Stone Mountain, Ga., had two-dozen bat boxes built on his course to attract Southern brown bats. He also added 36 bluebird boxes on his facility’s 36 holes and stopped mowing a 14-acre area to restore pasture habitat.

    “A lot of this is old wisdom that we lost along the way with actions that gave us the reputation of not being good stewards of the land,” says Williams. “What we’ve learned is that everything we do as an operation has an impact on the wildlife and the environment around us.”

    Other courses, such as The Sanctuary Golf Club in Sanibel Island, Fla., have added working bee hives and planted native wildflowers to encourage pollination by bees and butterflies. The Sanctuary is surrounded by J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

    Both Stone Mountain and The Sanctuary have earned distinction as Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries—an Audubon International program that requires specific qualification criteria for golf courses to become designated for environmental achievement.

    Locust Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., also became certified through the program and its superintendent, Rick Slattery, says his membership gained a greater environmental awareness through the process.

    “I would hope that some day, whether or not a golf course is environmentally friendly and sustainable will enter into people’s decisions about which golf courses they choose to join and patronize,” Slattery adds.

    Water has increasingly become a greater concern throughout the nation in recent years, with western states falling under strict guidelines and new usage challenges. TPC Las Vegas, for example, has found a way to uphold the standards and conditions of the PGA Tour while maintaining only 90 acres of turf grass.

    But even rain-rich courses, such as The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla., have consciously reduced water usage through state-of-the-art sprinkler systems and the use of effluent water.

    John Katterheinrich, superintendent at The Bear’s Club, says the course’s namesake, Jack Nicklaus, took extra care when he built the course in 1999. Nicklaus installed 17 lift stations to transfer water out of areas of play on the course and into a settling area planted with native vegetation. The course design filters all water twice before it leaves the golf-course property.

    In addition, The Bear’s Club maintains 65 acres of turf compared to the average 110 acres of grass for 18-hole courses in South Florida. And on a hot summer night, the course will use up to 350,000 gallons of reclaimed water compared to an average of 850,000 gallons of water used by many other South Florida courses, says Katterheinrich.

    Over the years, Nicklaus has designed or modified more than 375 courses in 36 countries through his company, Nicklaus Design, but the World Golf Hall of Fame member says one thing has remained a constant throughout his career.

    “I’ve always been a wildlife lover,” he says. “A main part of my design philosophy is that a course must be aesthetically pleasing, and [that means] not only how the course looks to the eye—the greens, fairways, bunkers, etc.—but how it also includes the trees, native vegetation, and the wildlife that surrounds the course.

    “I hope people understand how golfers and golf course designers are very good stewards of the land and environment,” Nicklaus adds. “When they finish a round on one of my courses, I hope it was a walk with nature and that golf was a part of that walk.”

    Lisa D. Mickey is a veteran golf writer and a certified Florida Master Naturalist.

  • 12/01/2015 9:31 AM | Anonymous

    TROY, NY -  Audubon International releases its "Case for Support" brochure on December 1, (Giving Tuesday) 2015.

    A case for support (also called a case statement) is a philanthropic investment prospectus. It is a document that tells prospective donors why it is important to support an organization. 

    Specifically, the case for investment in Audubon International is rooted in the opportunity to make a significant positive impact on the environment through our work to actively engaging businesses, communities, and individuals in voluntary actions and practices in conservation, sustainability and responsible environmental behaviors.

    Through a growing network of members across various industries (including golf, tourism and hospitality) and directly working with communities and municipalities, AI’s programs have demonstrated improvement on millions of acres of land through the protection of habitats for flora and fauna species, and the measurable reduction of harmful agents into soils, water, air and eco-systems. 

    Our growth and success is directly linked to our ability to reach, educate and inspire greater numbers to engage in responsible environmental practices and demonstrate continuous improvement on their own properties. Our health depends on improving land and water that is closest to our own homes and communities. 

    To view our "Case for Support" brochure, CLICK HERE

    About Audubon International

    Audubon International (AI) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to delivering high-quality environmental education and using incentive-based approaches to implement sustainable natural resource management in all places people live, work, and play.

    To make a donation to Audubon International, contact, Joe Madeira, Director of Advancement,, call 518-767-9051 or click on the donate now below. Donations are 100% tax deductible.


  • 11/30/2015 10:23 AM | Anonymous

  • 10/30/2015 1:18 PM | Anonymous

    The following letter is a response from Audubon International's Executive Director, Doug Bechtel, regarding an article which appeared in the Fall issue of Links Magazine, 2015 

    As an organization which is embraced by the golf industry and its leaders, we at Audubon International were surprised that Links Magazine editors would re-print a sensationalized article about nuisance species control on golf courses without seeking verification on the facts from Audubon International.  We consider many of our goals aligned with Links Magazine, such as supporting the game and the industry, promoting great courses, and improving golf’s image among the general public.

    The article (in the Fall 2015 edition, “The Other Audubon”), first posted on’s website, suggests that Audubon International somehow allows or endorses depredation of federally protected migratory birds.  This is misleading and inaccurate. While most of the article about nuisance species control on golf courses adequately describes depredation of migratory waterfowl on golf courses, we want to set the record straight on a few points. 

    Audubon International has no authority nor jurisdiction over depredation actions on golf courses.  We can neither allow nor prohibit such activities; we have no role to play in those decisions.  In fact, we advise courses to exhaust all options prior to seeking federal and state permits as a last resort for nuisance species control. 

    We are proud of our reputation among golf superintendents, club managers, and golf course owners. Audubon International has been publicly acknowledged for advancing good change to the game of golf.  Our work has helped approximately 3,000 golf courses in 30 countries save water, improve wildlife habitat, and reduce chemical use.

    We are a non-regulatory non-profit environmental membership organization whose mission-based program activities include advising golf courses and other facilities about how to reduce their impact on nature.  All our members must demonstrate wildlife habitat improvement in order to meet our certification standards.

    The cover headline “Revealed:  The Audubon Scam” is disparaging and undermines the good work Audubon International has done to help golf course managers improve their environmental management and elevate the sustainability of golf courses.  Our work with golf has also improved golf’s image and discredited the perception that golf is “bad for nature.”  Our pioneering efforts have promoted best practices in golf course management and have improved community relations through our rigorous certification and education programs.

    In addition to self-reporting on best practices to achieve certification, all golf courses in our voluntary program are regularly monitored by independent reviewers to ensure they continue to improve their management over time.  This independent validation is critical to ensure credibility in the certification process.  When achieving our high standards, we publicly celebrate our certified members who serve as role models for sustainable golf.

    Audubon International is not a golf organization.  We are an environmental non-profit that works with multiple industries to improve their environmental management.  Golf does represent the majority of our membership.  Golf courses in our program pay annual fees to support our voluntary mission-based educational programs.  Payment for this service aligns with industry standards for organizations performing third-party independent review. 

    The vast majority of our member courses pays less than $300 per year for our education services, and we don’t charge any additional fee for certification.  This is to ensure all courses can receive equal benefit and so that we honor our non-profit, charitable, mission-driven service model.  Our Signature program charges a higher amount and focuses on assisting golf course owners, builders, and architects build a new golf course under strict sustainability and environmental guidelines.  Those fees goes to support staff consultation time; development and review of highly detailed natural resource management plans; and multiple on site-review of golf course development.  Audubon International does not profit from membership fees; all income from fees support our efforts to achieve our mission-based environmental education with golf facilities.

    Finally, we are proud that many of the best golf courses in the world are Audubon International members.  In the Links Great Courses list, 50% of the US courses are members of Audubon International.  Many of the courses regularly promoted in Links' features stories are our members.  At a time when golf needs independent verification of the benefits golf provides to healthy people and communities, we feel we have a positive role to play to ensure the game thrives in a sustainable way. 

    Doug Bechtel

    Executive Director, Audubon International

    518-767-9051  x114

    Troy, NY

    To read the text of the Links article, Click Here.

  • 10/23/2015 10:19 AM | Anonymous

    Earlier this year, Aruba announced its goal of becoming completely fossil fuel-free by 2020. Last spring our staff member, Fred Realbuto, visited this island that is well on its way to becoming the first sustainable island on earth

    by Fred Realbuto, Chief of Operations

    Over the last six years, in my role managing Audubon International's Green Lodging Program, I have visited hundreds of inns, bed-and-breakfasts, hotels, and resorts throughout the world, from the Hawaiian Islands to Palm Desert California to historic Boston to the bustle of the Big Apple. I’ve experienced the charm of Hilton Head Island and the captivating beauty of southern Florida. With all these site visits, I have had the opportunity to relish and contemplate the uniqueness of each destination.

    Last Spring, I traveled to the beautiful island nation of Aruba, a former colony of the Dutch and one of the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. This Dutch Caribbean island has taken major steps in its effort to lead the world in carbon footprint reductions and to be an international example for sustainability. Its long term sustainability plan aims to become 100 percent free of fossil fuels by 2020.

    The purpose of my visit to this sustainable island was to provide site visit verification of two Marriott Vacation Clubs: Marriott’s Aruba Ocean Club and Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club (both Silver Certified Green Lodging Properties). Both are located on the northwestern part of the island known as Palm Coast, and both are enrolled in Audubon International’s Green Lodging Program. The trip turned out to be so much more of an experience than I had ever imagined.

    Had it not been for my host on the island, Marciano Geerman, this trip would have been business as usual. However, Marciano made sure that was not the case. He was an amazing host and tour-guide. His official title is Chief Engineer at the Marriott Surf Club, but his true designation was Ambassador of Aruba. Marciano is a native Aruban. He is one of five children of a part-time carpenter/full-time fisherman father. As an accomplished sailor, Marciano served the queen of Netherlands in the Dutch Navy and later served the Prime Minister of Aruba. He has captained ships from Africa to the Caribbean and across the Atlantic to ports-of-call in the US as well as Panama.

    Marciano, not only an accomplished sailor and engineer, has an innate understanding of the concept of sustainability and the special fragility that an island nation faces. He made it his mission to share not only what the Marriott is doing, but to show me firsthand the efforts that Aruba has undertaken as a country to become more sustainable. Some of these efforts are truly remarkable.

    In anticipation of my arrival he scheduled visits to the desalinization plant, the electrical generation facility, and the gasification plant. As a result I was able to see firsthand where every drop of drinking water in the country is produced, almost every kilowatt of energy is produced, and a groundbreaking gasification plant that is taking solid waste out of the landfill and creating a methanol-like product that is then used 100% to operate turbines creating electricity for the island. These facilities were an amazing highlight of my trip and demonstrated a country embracing the idea of sustainability.

    The prime minister of Aruba has committed to a 2020 plan whereby the nation is free of fossil fuel dependence completely by the year 2020. This is a lofty goal and may not become a reality but they are nonetheless striving to make it so. In addition, this year Aruba’s government signed a contract with the local utility service company ELMAR NV to convert all of the island’s public-road lighting to energy-efficient, light-emitting diodes (LED) by 2017, which will reduce energy consumption and lower maintenance costs.

    If they are able to, they will become a model for island nations throughout the world. The gasification plant is already generating intense interest from all around the globe.

    Audubon International hopes to work with not only the Marriott but other resorts on Aruba and with the Aruban government itself to assist them in realizing their environmental goals now and in the future. This trip, in no small way, may very well pave a path in forging new relationships and amazing opportunity.

    As Marciano taught me, Papimento "Ayoo" for now...and much more to come!

  • 10/19/2015 1:41 PM | Anonymous

    By Joanna Nadeau, Director of Community Programs

    Reposted from a guest blog at Fourth Economy - click to read their blog

    For better or worse, many towns and cities are experiencing new economic realities. Around the country, communities that historically depended on manufacturing or farming for jobs are suffering, as those sectors continue a long term decline. Fourth Economy and Audubon International have a shared interest in assisting cities and local governments in addressing the challenges they face through sustainable solutions.

    To be sustainable, a local economy must be two things:

    1) diverse—that is, based on a wide range of profitable sectors—and
    2) making the most of its natural assets while protecting them for the future.

    Through the Sustainable Communities Program, Audubon International helps communities recognize the relationship between the natural environment and local economic development. By featuring local natural assets as a central part of their appeal, towns looking to rebrand themselves can establish a new identity based on being a nature-friendly, sustainable community.

    Ecofriendly communities are becoming more attractive to homebuyers and are commanding higher prices. “Going green has proven to be more than a trend; many people now seek out this way of living and want homes and communities that are more resource efficient and sensitive to the environment,” says Gary Thomas, President of the National Association of Realtors.

    Towns are working through Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program to improve their local economic situations and create brighter futures for their communities. Many towns are looking for ways to keep young people from leaving after high school and avoid the dreaded “brain drain” that can stifle business investment.

    Communities need to start by looking at their existing assets as the foundation for growth. In his book, The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida explains that regions with amenities attract and retain more talent, which is necessary to compete effectively in a national and world marketplace.

    Amenities, such as an area’s intellectual and cultural resources and its natural setting, are what make a town a nice place to live and to visit. Parks, waterfront, recreational opportunities, and historical sites are assets that interest talented individuals in settling down in a town. Enhancing and protecting those cultural and natural assets are therefore critical strategies for economic development. Towns can use their amenities to compete for the businesses that employ top talent as well as to draw crowds for tourism.

    For example, towns located along rivers are realizing that waterways are beautiful, unique destinations available for all to enjoy – and are an asset that can distinguish them from other places. Such amenities also increase the quality of life for residents in many intangible ways. The river and its associated activities offer healthy and environmentally-friendly options for recreation. Access to nature is known to have benefits for mental health and stress reduction. If properly protected and utilized, a river can play a major role in economic development. A recent report shows communities that have made open space and conservation a priority have much higher growth rates than those managing natural resources solely for production.

    Among the many strategies for being a sustainable community, local governments need to focus on supporting local businesses, whether through downtown redevelopment, “Buy Local” campaigns, or other methods. The Sustainable Communities certification also requires that communities enhance or promote ecotourism, civic tourism, or cultural and historic tourism, and reach out to adventure travelers and businesses. In practice, think of ways that your community might transform the local economy from old and dying industries to new, green job sectors, whether in green tech, like clean energy and recycling, or through the growing sustainable tourism sector. If diversification is the name of the game, sustainability is how you win.

    Because there are so many possible connections between economic development and community sustainability, the only way to do it wrong is to not make any connection at all.

    AI works with communities to build citizen-driven sustainability programs that address these aspects and more, by incorporating sustainability into long term plans and activities. A focus on measuring sustainability activities and progress indicators also provides great content for marketing your community’s achievements thus far. Pursuing and ultimately achieving designation as a Certified Audubon International Sustainable Community helps communicate their sustainability values and priorities for the future to potential business investors, visitors, and residents.

  • 10/15/2015 3:34 PM | Anonymous

    Catching frogs is a fascinating childhood past time, but frog conservation is no child’s play. In fact, there is increasing alarm among scientists that many frog and other amphibian populations are in serious trouble. There are both simple and elaborate projects you can undertake to enhance habitat for frogs on your property. Getting started now will help you play a vital role in amphibian conservation and ensure that our native frog species live long into the future.

    Leapers, Climbers, Walkers, and Swimmers

    There are close to 100 different species of frogs in North American, so what species you have on your property will depend on where you are. In general, there are several main groups that you are likely to see in most places; water frogs/true frogs, toads, chorus and cricket frogs and spadefoots.

    That Miraculous Transformation

    Frogs are amphibians, a word of Greek origin that means two lives. Most adult frogs live in damp places in woods near streams or ponds. But when mating season comes, usually in the spring, they migrate to ponds, wetlands, and seasonal pools to lay their eggs. The eggs hatch into tadpoles, a completely aquatic stage that breathes with gills and eats algae. Depending on the species, the remain in the tadpole stage for as long as a year before they develop legs and lungs and move onto land as adults.

    Eggs, tadpoles and adult frogs are a crucial component of many ecological communities. A vital link in the food chain, they serve as food for aquatic insects, fish, mammals and birds. But carnivorous adult frogs do their share of eating too, feeding on mosquitoes, flies and aquatic invertebrates. Some frogs even eat small fish, amphibians, reptiles birds and rodents. One recent study found that a healthy frog population was removing over 50,000 insects per acre per year from one area under study.

    Moisture is Essential

    Like all amphibians, frogs need moisture to survive. Instead of drinking water, frogs absorb water through their skin. Though many species are found in watery environments such as ponds and wetlands, many adult frogs live in woodlands or grassy areas and return to ponds only to breed each year. To stay moist, frogs seek damp hiding places, such as under leaves, rocks, logs or debris piles.

    Canaries in a Global Coal Mine

    Because of their complex life cycle and moist, permeable skin, frogs are exposed to both water and land pollution during their lives. Likewise, their unshelled eggs are directly exposed to soil, water and sunlight. Because they never travel far, staying in fairly confined regions throughout their lives, frogs and other amphibians are good indicators of local environmental conditions. Because of there sensitivity to pollution, frogs have been likened to the canary in the coal mine that bodes of environmental ill.

    TIPS to Help Frogs

    You can do many things to encourage frogs on your property and in your local community. The simple actions you take when repeated many times over by landowners throughout North America can have a significant positive impact. And an abundance of frogs on your property will be strong evidence that you are taking good care of both land and water.

    Think Like a Frog

    To create good habitats for frogs and other amphibians, it may help to consider their perspective: What would you look for if you were a frog? Moist hiding places, shallow pools, lots of plant cover, and insects for eating top the list. These conditions can be easily created on most properties and you can tailor-make you frog habitat to suit your site.

    When enhancing habitat for frogs there are three primary things to do:

    • Make sure there are good habitats for adult frogs;
    • Provide breeding sites in the spring;
    • Maintain safe corridors between woods and ponds
    • If there are no fish in a pond, do not add any to reduce predation on eggs and tadpoles.
    Here is what you can do right in your backyard:
    • Create hiding places for toads by building small rock piles, log piles and brush piles close to shrubbery or in gardens.
    • Make a toad abode by sinking a clay flower pot into the soil in garden or landscape beds. The pot should lie on its side with an opening facing north, and be partially filled with soil.
    • Construct a shallow backyard pool, without fish.
    • Remember that frogs rely on good water quality, both on and off your property. Always keep septic systems in good working order, repair your car quickly if you detect leaking oil, and properly dispose of hazardous household wastes.

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