Tiger Salamanders Return to Historical Marsh Site to Breed Where Lake Lagunita Now Sits

(Another helpful guest post by CGF Intern Anthony Aerts.  I had wondered about this issue for a while.  -Brian Schmidt)

While looking through the “Creek & Watershed Map of Palo Alto & Vicinity” created by Janet M. Sowers and published by the Oakland Museum of California (2004), I came across the following information: “Historian Alan K. Brown observed that in 1857, a natural marsh occupied the depression that is now the lake.”  While Stanford’s Lake Lagunita was originally built as a livestock watering hole, it appears that a natural wetland predated this artificial lake. This fact is significant given the debate around the vulnerable California tiger salamander population that uses Lake Lag as a winter breeding ground.

Some people have stated that the salamanders are simply benefiting from a lake that Stanford created.  They therefore resent the obligation they consider imposed on Stanford, or they think Stanford hasn’t received credit it deserves for its good work.  However, the existence of a natural marsh prior to the lake might suggest otherwise. In fact, the tiger salamander may merely be returning to a spot used as a breeding ground long before Stanford came into being.

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