the mountain yellow-legged bull


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Tony Bird

Northridge, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 11, 2017 - 06:45am PT
i'm just going to post this FWIW since supertopo is probably the best place to reach southern california climbers. i don't intend to pay much attention to the discussion it might generate. i have not been active here for several years because of, to put it plainly, bad manners. if you want to talk to me about this you probably know how to reach me.

if you don't know the business of the mountain yellow-legged frog and the closing of williamson rock in the san gabriels, do a little homework. the rock was closed because of a small population of this "endangered species"--which has historically ranged from oregon down to baja california and was once quite populous in high sierra lakes. no one could give us a very good overall picture as to how threatened this particular species was.

the headwater of little rock creek flows through williamson gorge, and it was determined there was a population of nine (9)--count 'em, 9--MYLFs back when they closed the place several years ago. biologists told us it was an important holdout population. they stopped all climbing in the gorge because, as everyone knows, climbers like to swallow live frogs for lunch. climbers are also notorious voyeurs of frog mating. being naturally shy, the frogs won't mate with climbers staring at them.

the climber organization, duds of williamson rock, has been big-wow active about this. the "latest news" seems to be a letter they wrote in 2010.

oh, and the access fund. they caught me badmouthing them online about their lack of involvement in the williamson issue and i was promptly beseiged by various personalities of their headquarters office. we eventually had a pleasant conference call and i haven't heard from them since. this was more than a year ago.

congressmen operate the same way. if you're hopped up about some issue, they hold your hand, agree with you, wait for you to pipe down, and then forget about you.

so i'm riding the chairlift with a ski instructor who lives in big bear and we get to talking about environmental mismanagement. he gives ski instruction in southern australia during our summertime and he told me how the doo-rights of the australian environmental agency came to the rescue of the pygmy opposum. this is a small marsupial which lives in snow drifts in the winter. the enviro-heroes decided that emplacing access tubes of PVC pipe in the snow drifts would make it easier for the poo widdle possums to come and go. they'd be happier, they'd breed more, and then they wouldn't be endangered any more.

me, i would have served them margaritas. makes some creatures happier and they breed more.

thing is, the predators down under, foxes mostly, picked up the sound of pygmy possums scurrying in the PVC pipes and took to waiting at pipe openings with salivating jaws agape.

i mention the MYLF to this guy and he says, oh yea, they had to fix a culvert of city creek near big bear a few years back. the creek had been undermining hwy. 18, the main thoroughfare for all big bucks coming into town. when they got down under the highway they encountered MOUNTAIN YELLOW-LEGGED FROGS BY THE HUNDREDS.

not sure what they did about it, but i checked with the big bear newspaper and they confirmed that they had covered it and even sent me a link to a column one of their reporters wrote in sympathy to these poor endangered little buggers who managed to BREED BY THE HUNDREDS in conditions far better than what is afforded at williamson rock. shutting down hwy. 18 was not considered.

i was told by a forest service PR type once that, yea, they didn't really think it was a big deal at williamson, but they were being threated with a lawsuit by the center for biological diversity. our poo widdle federal government trembles when the CBD threatens. its meager resources cannot hold a candle to the spectacular affluence of an organization which receives immense contributions from old ladies who can afford to feed stray cats by the hundreds.

the frogs, and climbing at williamson, seem to be forgotten issues. i don't give a damn myself. i've learned to climb elsewhere. but when i was involved with this issue i was also told that "scientists" attempted to breed the MYLF in captivity, with no success. they supposedly killed about 40 frogs in the attempt. this is mitigated by a recent report that frogs at the williamson gorge frog resort have increased from the previous 9 to about 40. nine more frogs, dear resource managers, and we'll be even on the board. croak you very much.

on the way to the san gabriels you may go by angeles national golf club, designed by jack nicklaus, down in tujunga wash next to the 210 freeway. they were attempting to build this golf course about the time we were going through the williamson controversy. the sierra club and other enviro-heroes shrieked about endangered (endemic, really) species in the wash. some kind of spineflower (a weed). a pupfish (a minnow). headlines in the l.a. times declared how the mighty environmentalists halted the development.

for about a year.

government officials held their hands. agreed with them. allowed them to pipe down.

and then the slick lawyers for the golf development got their permit. green fees at ANGC are $188.

funny how the CBD kept its fearsome mouth shut over the weed, the minnow, and the culvert into big bear.

Trad climber
Apr 11, 2017 - 07:52am PT
The Forest Service, CBD and Access Fund are all meeting up at Williamson today to do a site walk through. I asked the AF to call and include the Sierra Club since they are one of the other big players in the law suit that want to keep climbers out. The AF didn't seem to interested in including the Sierra Club. Maybe because so many climbers are Sierra Club members but have no idea the SC wants to close access to so many areas climbers use. I have a feeling the Sierra Club and the AF are pretty cozy.

Social climber
Wise Acres
Apr 11, 2017 - 08:47am PT
Hey TB,

...No frogs were hurt in the making of this video???

Trad climber
Red Rock
Apr 11, 2017 - 09:17am PT
if you guys want some more perspective on this same scenario but different recreating group....look into the milkvetch issues at glamis and other ohv areas.... blm/scientists figured out the weed grew better in areas of ohv use then it did in the areas that they closed due to cbd pressure saying ohv use was endangering it.....but cbd didn't care for "real" facts....

I think they just H8 people having for boring d#@&%ebags

Trad climber
Apr 11, 2017 - 09:57am PT
I don't think the CBD hates people having fun I think the CBD just hates people.
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Apr 11, 2017 - 10:09am PT
Tony, so good to hear from you. Miss your posts here. Love your literary hand. Not enough old pro writers here.

This post is great! You should should submit it to the letters section of the Sierra Magazine and the local Sierra Club bulliten.

I think Batrock may be incorrect about a SC faction opposing climging at Williamson, but he also could be correct. Anyhow, noise that is favorable to climbers in SC media would be helpful.

You are still SC aren't you?

See you at the Deli.

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Apr 11, 2017 - 10:47am PT
There's no shortage of climbing in SoCal, let the frogs have a little piece and quiet.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Apr 11, 2017 - 10:55am PT
CBD doesn't give a rat's ass about climbing beyond the fact that it falls under the heading of 'recreational activities'. Again, climbing at WR is unfortunate roadkill under that broad heading and relative the larger regional mandates associated with it. The AF is engaged and the best course for climbers upset about the WR closure is to support and work with the AF.

Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
Apr 11, 2017 - 11:13am PT
Tony nails it.

As far as "letting the frogs have some peace and quiet" Gary,
I think you are missing the point of why we don't want groups like the CBD, Seirra club or access fund regulating where and when we recreate.

The way to get Williamson open to climbing is community involvement.
History shows this will not happen.

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Apr 11, 2017 - 11:22am PT
It's a roadside stream. Friggin' Harleys and rice rockets go by there all day long.

CBD should helo some USC students into the back-country of the San Gabriels to do their frog counting. I doubt they'll encounter any of the nasty humanoid beasts in there, just copious amounts of poison oak. I suspect they'll find a thriving frog population though.

I spend a lot of time walking through these mountains on trails and fire roads. Looking off the trail, the thought of having to traverse the terrain there is sobering. John Muir had this to say...

In the mountains of San Gabriel, overlooking the lowland vines and fruit groves, Mother Nature is most ruggedly, thornily savage. Not even in the Sierra have I ever made the acquaintance of mountains more rigidly inaccessible. The slopes are exceptionally steep and insecure to the foot of the explorer, however great his strength or skill may be, but thorny chaparral constitutes their chief defense. With the exception of little park and garden spots not visible in comprehensive views, the entire surface is covered with it, from the highest peaks to the plain. It swoops into every hollow and swells over every ridge, gracefully complying with the varied topography, in shaggy, ungovernable exuberance, fairly dwarfing the utmost efforts of human culture out of sight and mind.

But in the very heart of this thorny wilderness, down in the dells, you may find gardens filled with the fairest flowers, that any child would love, and unapproachable linns lined with lilies and ferns, where the ousel builds its mossy hut and sings in chorus with the white falling water. Bears, also, and panthers, wolves, wildcats; wood rats, squirrels, foxes, snakes, and innumerable birds, all find grateful homes here, adding wildness to wildness in glorious profusion and variety.

(A linn could be a pool under a waterfall, an Ousel is a kind of bird.)

Grey Matter
Apr 11, 2017 - 12:36pm PT
There are bound to be some differences in how land and wildlife are managed, since different areas have different rules.

Williamson Rock is in the Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness since 2009,
so the rules are much different than a golf course or an existing city culvert.

Several populations of the MYLF were discovered in recent years, but let's face it, the frogs face a lot of human impacts, and the national forest can only influence some of those.

Hopefully the long term outcome will be to reopen much of Williamson without unreasonable restrictions, after the contract environmental review is done, and the NEPA process complete.

So the routes right along the stream are likely to be permanently closed,
as well as the short trail. There is little point in debating that, unless you have proof that the frogs should now be taken off the endangered species list.

Some Questions that may actually be still under review:

 Falcon season: entire crag closed until Aug or just the routes within 50-70 yards of the actual nest (typically Freezer Burn/Voices/Eagles Roost/Sick Wall)

 After Falcon season: Open access (from the ledge just past the slot next to Mushroom) to those areas restricted during Falcon nesting season?

 Which climbs permanently closed? Just Mushroom/London/Stream & others along the stream?

 Permit system?


Trad climber
Apr 11, 2017 - 01:22pm PT
Yellow legged frogs.... Although I hate to see the natural world getting raped, this Center for Biological diversity makes me sick. Some people crave money and power above all else. They happily waste tax dollars tilting windmills. They love to say "I told you so." While conservation efforts are very important, these hooplas take it WAY too far. For them, the opportunity to lever more money and power is too tempting. Their bleeding hearts reach deep into the pockets of everyone while they drive Mercedes and live in million dollar homes. Their footprint is so huge that eliminating their Salaries would actually help the environment way more than their efforts to "save the environment." The money required to pay all their execs and lawers comes from taxes and contributions that derive from industrial activity. Millionaire environmentalists are NOT SUSTAINABLE! If we simply stopped wasting money on these ridiculous people, the reduced burden on the economy would WAY offset any good they accomplish. The fact is that 99.99999% of all species that ever walked, crawled, swam or slithered on this planet are extinct. Im not saying we should ignore the impact humans have in the world. But the endeaver to "save" all these species is a war against nature itself. A battle that cannot be won. The lifestyles of these "environmentalists" who drive $60,000 priuses is more a damage to nature than their "conservation" efforts will ever prevent. But as long as their efforts yield big money and power, their farce will continue. In reality, when we see that their rich friends always get a pass on the environment for their big money projects, the true purpose of these environmental regulations comes to light: regulate all economic opportunities to zero except for our rich buddies and cronies. Their movement is used to create a monopoly of economic opportunity. You may notice that Nancy Pelosi's husband always gets approval for his big developments, regardless of environmental impact. Same for Angelo Tsakopolous and AKT development. Same for Teichert. Same for Whitcomb and Tandem properties. I watched Whitcomb dump 500 yards of dirt on burrowing owls in Davis where there is a moratorium on development and owls are protected. Unfortunately, what may have started out as a noble cause to protect the environment has become a lever and a hammer to stifle all economic activity and opportunity for the common person in favor of wealthy 1% big business and corrupt lawyers and politicians. If the big business guys want to turn a sierra lake full of frogs into a tungston mine or gravel pit, they poison the whole place and get a slap on the wrist. Then they desecrate the whole area. If we want to protect the environment, closing climbing areas is not the answer. That is just the big peckerheads demonstrating their absolute power and capricious, recklessness. The way to save the environment is to put a stop to the extreme greed of the 1% and stop exporting our natural resources. Stop undocumented immigration and educate people in cities about birth control. A decrease in subsidies for irresponsible procreation would reduce the footprint of our major cities. Its time to focus our attention on the big mega polluters and stop hassling little guys whose footprint is insignificant by comparison.

Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
Apr 11, 2017 - 01:48pm PT
DOJ Documents Confirm Center for Biological Diversity Received Millions in Taxpayer Funds from ESA-Related Lawsuits.

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Apr 11, 2017 - 02:12pm PT
Several populations of the MYLF were discovered in recent years, but let's face it, the frogs face a lot of human impacts, and the national forest can only influence some of those.

Again, I wonder. If the frogs are found in a roadside creek which has been frequented by humans for some time now, is it not logical to deduce that the frogs live in the many streams virtually inaccessible to man throughout these mountains? Wouldn't it serve everyone well to get some people out into the recesses of these mountains to determine if these frogs are truly endangered? Seems like that would be the foundation for making good policy.

Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
Apr 11, 2017 - 02:24pm PT
The frogs have been nearly wiped out by the chytrid fungus.
It has nothing to do with human interaction.
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
Apr 11, 2017 - 02:38pm PT
Tony, Nice piece of writing - thanks. Sorry you don't post on the taco anymore, as it would be nice to read your stuff.

Chainsaw, a bit of a scattergun rant there, buddy, but I can't say that you are wrong on many of the details. It reminds me of some endangered critter issues I know a bit more about. Some years ago I was involved for a number of years doing field work on a large Federally funded project wherein the Desert Tortoise was the endangered critter de jour. We had all kinds of foolish protocols we had to deal with working in his backyard, his backyard in this case being a large chunk of Federal land, and the project being one unpopular with the locals. That being said, just down the road about 60 miles in exactly the same habitat, with the same endangered critter lurking about, as desert tortoises are well known for their lurking, big honking housing projects and office parks went in higgedly piggedly with nary a peep of concern for those poor, unfortunate lurking tortoises. We were not impressed. In fact, we tended to do all manner of things to liberate said lurking tortoises whenever we encountered them, in direct contravention of what we had been taught and retaught in our annual "tortoise training courses" - part of our required annual certification to work on this project. So yea, chainsaw, I get where your coming from.

Mountain climber
Apr 11, 2017 - 04:13pm PT
Gary nails it,
Someone up thread said Williamson offered the best cragging in SoCal, That's debatable.
Note:I climbed at Williamson from the early 90s until it closed.
It was fun, and convenient, but not a destination.

Trad climber
Apr 11, 2017 - 04:14pm PT
I climbed up at the Tunnels today and on the way home drove by Willy and there was a full army of NFS, AF and supposedly CBD and I hope Sierra Club reps standing around their vehicles as I drove by. I wanted to roll my window down and let out a "free Willy" yell but kept my mouth shut.

Trad climber
Apr 11, 2017 - 04:16pm PT
Funny that most of the people who don't really care if Willy opens either don't climb anymore or live out of the area.

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Apr 11, 2017 - 04:16pm PT
10b ..... please tell me whats better?

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