Endangered species found thriving in wetlands at San Francisco airport


An undeveloped parcel of land owned by San Francisco International Airport is home to a thriving population of an endangered snake species, a recent study revealed, CBS San Francisco reports.

The study, commissioned by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, revealed that the 180-acre parcel of wetlands and uplands sustains some 1,300 San Francisco garter snakes — the largest concentration discovered to date, airport officials said Wednesday.

San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia) in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in an undated photo. 

National Park Service / CBS San Francisco

The land, which is known as West-of-Bayshore and is off-limits to the public, is also home to the California red-legged frog. Both the California red-legged frog and the California garter snake are considered federally protected species.

“These results validate the environmental stewardship programs we have in place to ensure endangered species can survive and thrive at SFO (San Francisco/Oakland),” SFO wildlife biologist Natalie Reeder said.

Airport officials say its efforts have helped enhance the habitat, including an annual visit by goats for fire prevention.

The airport began its Recovery Action Plan in 2008, trying to stabilize or increase the snake and frog populations. In 2014, the airport was recognized for its recovery efforts with an Environmental Achievement Award by Airports Council International North America.

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