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Reaching and engaging the public in watershed-based activities can be a struggle. An excellent way for residents to learn about their watershed is to involve them in a local frog and toad survey. Friends of the Rouge, a watershed-based organization in metropolitan Detroit, has educated thousands of residents about wetlands, the watershed, and local amphibians and has given them first-hand experience in identifying and assessing the health of their local wetlands and through a volunteer listening survey.

The survey was designed to be cost-effective, volunteer-based, and the data collected to be comparable with that collected by other programs within the Rouge Program Office. To save time and cost, survey protocols were adapted from existing survey programs for monitoring amphibians and breeding birds.

The response and participation of volunteers has been high and sustained with participation growing almost every year since the first year. Feedback surveys show that volunteers enjoy the survey because they like to learn frog and toad calls, they truly enjoy the experience of hearing frogs and toads calling in their survey area, they like an excuse to be outdoors at night, they like to contribute to a scientific survey, and they enjoy developing a new awareness of the environment. The survey has received excellent community support and funding mainly due to the Rouge River National Wet Weather Demonstration Project.

The survey is meeting both stated objectives of giving residents of an urbanizing area a positive experience with their local natural areas and collecting baseline data on the distribution of frogs and toads within the watershed. The next objectives to be addressed by the survey are providing recommendations to local decisionmakers and encouraging local initiatives.

A watershed-based volunteer frog and toad survey can be a successful model for attracting large numbers of volunteers to learn about and survey their local watershed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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