Rough-skinned Newt

Alma Bridge Road Newt Passage Project

Midpen is partnering with Santa Clara County and several other agencies to investigate feasibility, prepare an Alternatives Analysis and preliminary designs, and perform associated environmental and engineering services to improve wildlife connectivity primarily for California newts across Alma Bridge Road near Lexington Reservoir.

A study completed in 2021 estimates that, of the nearly 14,000 adult California newts that attempted to cross the road during the rainy season in 2020-21 from their dry-season upland foraging habitat to their rainy-season breeding grounds during the survey period, almost 40% were killed by vehicle collisions. The California newt (Taricha torosa) and rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa), closely related species, are both present in the Los Gatos Creek watershed.

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Natural Resources Protection and Restoration
Natural Resources
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Research

Project Goals:

The 2021 Study built upon on several years of community science data collection. Since their monitoring began in 2017, they have recorded over 27,000 newts killed on the roadway.

Although Midpen does not have jurisdiction over Alma Bridge Road (Santa Clara County owns and maintains the road and right-of-way), we are committed to working with the County and other regional partners to identify corrective actions, provide funding and support the implementation of long-term solutions to reduce road-related newt mortality. 

Potential interventions currently under investigation include, but are not limited to:   

  • at-grade amphibian crossing(s) embedded in the road surface  
  • retrofitting existing culvert(s) to enhance newt movement   
  • elevated road section(s) to allow passage of migrating newts beneath the roadway   
  • directional fencing to guide animals to potential crossing-improvement(s).

    Additional information about this project can be found in the informational item from the March 9, 2022, Board of Directors Meeting which includes a copy of the signed Cooperative Agreement between Midpen and Santa Clara County detailing how the agencies are working together to provide wildlife passage across Alma Bridge Road.

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    Timeline

    2017

    Midpen notified of high newt mortality by a trail patrol volunteer. Surrounding agencies notified.
    2019POST and Midpen begin working with H. T. Harvey to build upon and analyze community science data to better understand the issue
    2021H.T. Harvey Study Final Report finalized
    2022Consultant award of contract to begin feasibility investigations, preparation of an Alternatives Analysis and preliminary wildlife crossing designs, and associated environmental and engineering services
    2025Current construction estimate (project approvals and funding dependent)

     

    Partners and Stakeholders

    Midpen is coordinating with several organizations, including:

    Santa Clara County Roads and Airports Department
    Santa Clara County Parks Department 
    Valley Water
    Community scientists
    Audubon Society
    Sierra Club
    Center for Biological Diversity
    US Geologic Survey 
    Road Ecology Center at University of California Davis
    California Department of Fish and Wildlife
    Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST)