San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy


The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (SDRVC) has joined the list of organizations that are partnering with NAFHA and use our expertise to help them better manage their amphibian and reptile natural resources. The SDRVC is a non-profit environmental conservancy dedicated to sustainable management of the natural resources of the San Dieguito Watershed, with priority given to the protection of the river corridor. The Conservancy has a 24-year record of moving the vision of a 55-mile San Dieguito River Park and Coast-to-Crest Trail from the ocean at Del Mar to Volcan Mountain north of Julian to a maturing reality. Located in San Diego County, California, the Conservancy is working to acquire land to complete the River Park, extend the segments of the Coast-to-Crest Trail that are open, and assists with careful management of River Park lands. It is led by a citizen Board of Directors and is supported in its activities, physically and financially, by more than 1,200 Conservancy members. It partners with the River Park, citizens, land owners, governments and other non-governmental groups to ensure coordinated protection of the river corridor resources while fully respecting and protecting private property rights.

The SDRVC is currently working to eradicate invasive Pepperweed that threatens native plants as well as the water quality of the watershed. Federal regulations require that the impact on endangered species, such as the Arroyo Toad that lives in the area, be observed and monitored throughout the invasive plant eradication process. NAFHA California Chapter President Kent VanSooy led a delegation of NAFHA members in surveying a section of the river valley that was slated for Pepperweed eradication in order to locate, photograph, and gather GPS coordinates on any herpetofauna observed, with an emphasis on documenting any and all amphibian species discovered.

April 10, 2010: A group of 6 NAFHA members, including Kent VanSooy, Bill Townsend, Jackson Shedd, Lee Hull, Richard Dunn and Steve Bledsoe, conducted a survey of the first section of the valley. The main focus in this area of the valley was to identify suitable Arroyo Toad habitat and find evidence of the presence of the species in the form of adult toads or tadpoles. Since the Pepperweed eradication process utilizes the use of a herbicide that is sprayed directly on the plants in close proximity to the water, the presence of healthy tadpoles and other evidence of successful breeding by all of the amphibian species in the area is critical to the survey. On this day we observed and identified the presence of the following species:

Arroyo Toad (larvae), Anaxyrus californicus

Southern California Toad (larvae), Anaxyrus b. halophilus

Baja California Treefrog (larvae), Pseudacris hypochondriaca

San Diego Ring-necked Snake, Diadophis p. similis

Southwestern Threadsnake, Leptotyphlops h. humilis

Great Basin Fence Lizard, Sceloporus o. longipes

Granite Spiny Lizard, Sceloporus orcutti

Side-blotched Lizard, Uta s. elegans



                                 The Crew                                                                                        Pepperweed



           Arroyo Toad larvae    A  AAAnaxyrus californicus                            Arroyo Toad larvae    A  AAAnaxyrus californicus


           Baja California Treefrog larvae    Pseudacris hypochondriaca                           California Toad larvae    Anaxyrus b.halophilus 



           Southwestern Threadsnake  Leptotyphlops h. humilis                          San Diego Ring-necked Snake  Diadophis p. similis


April 25, 2010: Kent VanSooy and Steve Bledsoe surveyed a second section of the valley and found the habitat suitable for Arroyo Toads, but found no water in the main channel of the river bed. A follow-up visit to check on the status of the Arroyo Toad tadpoles observed on April 10th revealed that the tadpoles were healthy and growing. On the first visit the Arroyo Toad tadpoles were outnumbered by the tadpoles of the other species in the pool where they were observed. By April 25 they were larger and now outnumbered the tadpoles of the other species. This second survey also added the Red Racer, Coluber f. piceus, to the list of herpetofauna observed in the river valley.


            Arroyo Toad larvae  Anaxyrus californicus                   Red Racer (AKA: Red Coachwhip) Coluber f. piceus


You can learn more about the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy by visiting their website at


Photos courtesy of Lee Hull, Jackson Shedd and Kent VanSooy