Help Build Wetlands In Tahoe National Forest

Tahoe National Forest - Wetlands Volunteer Icon


SAVE THE FROGS! is recruiting volunteers for the California Red-Legged Frog Habitat Enhancement Project on the Tahoe National Forest. Volunteers will assist with the construction of wetlands aimed to benefit endangered California Red-Legged Frogs (Rana draytonii). Volunteers will get hands-on ecological experience and learn a tremendous amount about wetland construction and restoration.

The project is being led by wetland expert Tom Biebighauser (Founder of Wetland Restoration and Training LLC) and Dan Teater (Fisheries Biologist with the US Forest Service). Tom has been training SAVE THE FROGS! staff and volunteers since 2014 and has built over 2,600 wetlands.

The project begins on Monday, April 19, 2021 and will go seven days per week through May 8th, 2021. Volunteers can help on any day or group of days throughout the project’s duration. Ideally, we would have six or more people volunteering to help each day; we can safely have up to 30 people present.

There is no cost to participate, though volunteers are responsible for their own transportation, food and lodging.

On the 13th Annual Save The Frogs Day (April 24, 2021) we will be holding a special event, installing aquatic-safe liners on one or more large wetlands.

We encourage you to spread the word about this exceptional learning opportunity and fill out the Volunteer Expression Of Interest Form below ASAP if you would like to participate.

Tahoe National Forest - Wetlands Volunteer Icon

Tahoe is a fabulous place for nature, wildlife and outdoor activities.

California Red-Legged Frog Wetland Construction: Project Info

You’re invited to help the US Forest Service build 18-wetlands to provide breeding habitat for the federally threatened California Red-Legged Frog on the Tahoe National Forest in California, near the community of Michigan Bluff. 

While similar projects have been accomplished on other National Forests in the Sierra Nevada, this effort is the largest and most ambitious California Red-Legged Frog habitat creation project in the Sierra Nevada Foothill and Central Valley Recovery Unit to date! 

Tom Biebighauser (Wildlife Biologist, Sheltowee Environmental Education Coalition) and Dan Teater (Fisheries Biologist, U.S. Forest Service) will be onsite directing the construction of the wetlands for the California Red-legged Frog Habitat Expansion Project. 

“Great opportunity!!!! This is a huge conservation accomplishment. I hope to attend. I HIGHLY recommend everyone prioritize this training opportunity: retired FS biologist and hydrologist extraordinaire Tom Biebighauser is an incredible teacher and trainer.”
— Kary Schlick, Coordinator of Eldorado National Forest’s 2014 Wetlands Construction Project

Rana draytonii

Your volunteer participation will directly assist California’s state amphibian!

What Volunteers Will Learn

You will learn how to build naturally appearing and functioning wetlands for the California Red-Legged Frog and other rare species. Tom Biebighauser will show how to use a laser level, tape measure, and soil auger to design and monitor the construction of one or more wetlands each day.

Tom has built over 2,600 wetlands across the United States and Canada for rare species of fish and wildlife over the past 42-years. He has developed highly effective and low-cost techniques for building wetlands, and for training individuals how they can build wetlands. Tom recently helped build wetlands that are being used by the California red-legged frog on the Eldorado National Forest, Plumas National Forest, and on BLM land near Michigan Bluff.

This is also a unique opportunity to learn from Don Smith, an expert excavator operator and wetland builder. Don has been building wetlands for the threatened Chiricahua leopard frog with Tom Biebighauser for eight years. He recently instructed a class for Bat Conservation International where he trained other heavy equipment operators how they can build wetlands for rare species of wildlife and fish.

rana draytonii california red legged frog

Their legs are not always red…though if you look closely, you will usually see some red coloration.


The California Red-Legged Frog Habitat Expansion Project is a partnership between SAVE THE FROGS!, the U.S. Forest Service, Placer County, Sheltowee Environmental Education Coalition, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Sheltowee Environmental Education Coalition (SEEC) entered into Challenge Cost Share Agreements with the Forest Service to complete this project, and similar wetland projects on the Coronado National Forest in Arizona. SEEC is interested in expanding its wetland program to assist other National Forests with restoring wetlands for rare species of fish and wildlife.

Funding for the project was received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Placer County Secure Rural Schools & Community Self Determination Act Program (RAC Grant).

rana draytonii eggs

Egg mass, Rana draytonii

Volunteering Specifics

We need your help building these wetlands. You’ll be actively engaged in hands-on training to create breeding habitat for the California Red-Legged Frog. 

Individuals and groups are asked to participate any time from April 20th to May 8th, 2021. Work is planned for seven days per week. You’re encouraged to schedule three or more days to help with the project, especially if you’re interested in learning how to build wetlands on your own.

Each day we will have a morning briefing and go over a signed Job Hazard Analysis with particular focus on COVID-19. We’re hoping people can help with the project on different days over the three weeks we plan on building the wetlands.

There is no fee to register or to participate in this training.

Each participant will receive a copy of the book Wetland Restoration and Construction – A Technical Guide by Thomas R. Biebighauser IF they assist for three or more days.

Participants must pay for their own food, travel, and lodging. Salaries will not be provided by the US Forest Service. There are a number of motels located in Auburn, about a 40-minute drive from Michigan Bluff.

Please bring appropriate face masks for COVID-19 protection and dress for the outdoors and wear boots and long pants. Physical distancing will be implemented to minimize exposure during project implementation.

Bring gloves, a garden rake, high visibility vest, and hardhat if you have them (we plan to have extras you may borrow). Bring your own food and water.

Rana draytonii - CRLF Kellen Harter

There has never been a better time to get outside, breathe the fresh air and do something beneficial for the planet!

Spread The Word

This training is designed for anyone who wants to learn how to build wetlands, including technicians, heavy equipment operators, biologists, consultants, engineers, soil scientists, hydrologists, and private land owners. Please share this webpage with others who might be interested!

Tahoe National Forest - Wetlands Volunteer Icon

Feel free to use this image on your social media channels or website.

Volunteer Expression Of Interest Form

If you are interested in participating in this project, please complete the Volunteer Expression of Interest Form below so we know the days you are available. We will let you know when and where to meet on the days you’re planning to help.

We look forward to hearing from you!

You will be directed to a new page upon clicking submit!


Please direct any questions to:

Dan Teater
Tahoe National Forest, American River Ranger District
22830 Foresthill Road Foresthill, CA 95631
p: 530-367-2224 x270
f: 530-367-2992

California Red-legged Frog (Rana draytonii) photo courtesy Chris Berry, City of Santa Cruz