While committees of humans contemplate the Highway 1 widening, the Santa Cruz
long-toed salamander goes about its business of living, breathing, and eating
mosquitoes, unaware that one of its last remaining breeding ponds is as endangered
as the salamander itself. On rainy winter nights one segment of these salamanders
migrates from upland areas down to Valencia Lagoon on Bonita Drive in Rio Del
Mar, the only breeding pond left for this sub-population. However, the proposed
added southbound lane stretching to Larkin Valley could obliterate this pond,
a death knell for one out of only three remaining sub-populations of the Santa
Cruz long-toed salamander.
Though some shrug it off, the progressive threat to this amazing species threatens
us as well. As David Suzuki, the eminent geneticist and environmentalist, has
written, When we forget that we are embedded in the natural world, we also
forget that what we do to our surroundings we are doing to ourselves.
In fact, it has been highway construction in particular in Santa Cruz County that
has caused severe habitat loss for the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander. The brutal
irony, of course, is that, touted car-pool lane or not, any such amelioration
of Highway 1 traffic will be short-lived, as studies show time and again that
added lanes ultimately foster more cars. To contemplate the loss of yet another
beautiful creature to accommodate further human folly is tremendously saddening.
The public saved these salamanders from obliteration in the 70s; in serving
as their voice, Im hoping we can save them yet again. Anyone interested
in helping the salamanders, please email me.
By the way, there is an
excellent website about these phenomenal amphibians.