Every year our calendars seem to fill up more quickly than the previous year. However, opportunities to support conservation of North Carolina’s reptiles and amphibians abound if we just make time for them. Of particular importance are legislative efforts connected with conservation issues such as the land and water conservation bonds. North Carolina’s conservation trust funds took an 85 percent hit in the state budget approved by the General Assembly in 2011. For full details on what happened with conservation funding and policy during the 2011 session, read this story from the Conservation Trust for North Carolina. (see www.landfortomorrow.org). Although the political process can be daunting, taking a moment to compose an e-mail, write a letter, or even call your state legislators to let them know your interest in conservation can be an important step in passing future legislation.
Joanne St. Clair, our Education Chair, is continually inundated with requests to do herp programs across the state. Though she tries to cover as many as she can, she cannot do them all. Several events that NCHS participates in every year are Reptile and Amphibian Day, held at the NC State Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh in March (usually the Saturday closest to St. Patrick’s Day); The Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh the first weekend in March; the Eno River Festival, held in Durham over the 4th of July. Go ahead take a look at our events calendar and then mark these events on your calendar so you’ll be sure to be “free” for them. Or send Joanne an e-mail and offer to participate in a program here and there. You’ll find these programs extremely rewarding as well as productive in fostering appreciation for herps among the public.
The Carolina Herp Atlas (www.carolinaherpatlas.org) is an excellent resource for us all. Take the time to register with the online database and then add records of herps you encounter in the field. The Atlas is a great place for you to store your own records and it will allow biologists from across the state to track species ranges and possibly abundance. You need not worry about someone finding your special herping spot. No specific locality information is available to the public from the website; only the counties from which a species has been recorded will be highlighted for public visitors.
The North Carolina Calling Amphibian Survey Program (CASP) should allow opportunities for tracking frog and toad populations and distributions. Currently in its sixth year, CASP has 175 routes with many of them needing volunteers to run them. Additionally, quite a few of these routes have yet to be ground-truthed, so plenty of work remains to be done. Other occasions for field research include Project Bog Turtle and Project Simus as well as numerous projects through the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention participation in the North Carolina chapter of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (NCPARC). NCPARC has three working groups in NC, including Research, Inventory, Monitoring, and Management (RIMM); Policy, Regulation, and Trade (PRT); and Education and Outreach (EO). Each of these working groups meets several times a year. All who are interested are encouraged to join and participate (www.ncparc.org).
So in closing, if you are not already involved in some form of herp conservation, get out there and get involved. There are plenty of choices including the ones I’ve listed, many that I didn’t have time or space to write about, and likely some I don’t even know about. If we all do our part, we can make a difference.
Other Ideas for getting involved...
Love turtles? Project Bog Turtle, an initiative of the Conservation Committee of the North Carolina Herpetological Society, was founded in 1995. The project is dedicated to the protection of the bog turtle and its habitat in the southeastern United States. Volunteers and donations are always appreciated. Conact Tom Thorp or Ann Somers for more information.
Interested in helping herp conservation but not so sure you'd like to dig around to find them yourself? Donate to Project Simus and help us save the threatened species found in our unique Sandhills habitats.
Want to get invovled in a legislative process that's herp related? In the upcoming Legislative long session, the Society will be proposing an alternative proposal for the State Amphibian. Read about this story on our Proposed State Amphibian page.