A highlight of NAFHA is to provide state and national game agencies with data to assist in the development of educated decisions on how to better manage native reptile and amphibian populations. California's list of Amphibian and Reptile Species of Special Concern (ARSSC) is a critical component of the management and protection of amphibians and reptiles in the state.
Although SSC candidate species are not afforded the same protection as federal or state listed taxa, the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) and the state Wildlife Action Plan recognize SSC as taxa that are in jeopardy and require special scrutiny before listing them under the California Endangered Species Act becomes necessary. The SSC designation encourages agency biologists, land managers, biological consultants, researchers and others to focus attention on these taxa.
The current California ARSSC list, originally drafted in 1994, is a list of taxa that were clearly declining at the time and in need of some level of protection. The CDFG has contracted with UC Davis to completely revise the existing list to better reflect those taxa that currently require some measure of conservation in order to stabilize their populations.
In 2009, NAFHA Southern California Chapter President Kent VanSooy contacted the ARSSC revision group at UC Davis and offered to share information recorded in the NAFHA / HERP database pertaining to the California native species on which additional data was needed. The response from the revision group was an enthusiastic “Yes”.
In late October 2009, we received a list of 15 target species from the UC Davis ARSSC group. Upon receipt of the list, SoCal Chapter Conservation Officer Jim Bass went to work to seek out all applicable records from the HERP database. Jim identified over 350 individual records which were revealed to our NAFHA Database Coordinator, Don Becker. After notifying and receiving permission from all contributing NAFHA members, Don extracted the information from the database and forwarded it to the ARSSC revision group. The end result was that the revision group gained some very valuable information from NAFHA that otherwise they would not have had access to, and they did not hesitate to express their gratitude.
You can visit the California ARSSC website to learn more about the program and view the ARSSC list at this address: http://arssc.ucdavis.edu/index.html