This story comes to us from our friends at The Nature Conservancy. The TNC has partnered with Ruffwear Ambassadors, the Conservation Canines at the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology. Read on to learn how these teams of humans and canines are working to restore critical habitat for the Jemez salamanders in the Santa Fe National Forest in the state of New Mexico.

I may only be small, but I’m important too. Lately, I’ve really struggled with the heat…and it’s been so dry. Our underground home just isn’t what it used to be. It seems like our family and friends are not living as long as they used to. It’s the talk of the Santa Fe National Forest.

Jemez Mountain Salamander on a Burned Log
Jemez Mountain Salamander on a Burned Log

For those of you who haven’t met me, I’m Sammy the Jemez Mountain Salamander. I’m an amphibian that needs moisture to breathe. Salamander sizes range from 1.5 to 4.5 inches. I’m elusive and most people don’t ever see me. I’ve been told my ancestors have been here for thousands of years.  But, if our forested home isn’t protected, we may not be here for much longer. That would really mess up the chain of life here.

It’s important people pay attention to us so you can better understand the health of the system. Many of my amphibian relatives are studied because they have a unique skin chemistry that is the basis for medicine for people just like you.

This time of year is one of my favorite because it rains a lot. But this monsoon season is different than the others. Something unusual is happening. I’ve spotted two furry creatures running around and sniffing under some rocks and rotten logs. They’re called Conservation Canines—rescue dogs trained to sniff out endangered wildlife for conservation efforts.

The Conservation Canines are here for me…for the salamanders. They’re trying to figure out what our population is right now and where we’re all living here in the Jemez Mountains.

Conservation Canine, Frehley, with his human partner Bud Marks
Conservation Canine, Frehley, with his human partner Bud Marks

Information the dogs collect will be used to make sure forest restoration activities don’t interfere with my home — these measures are essential in the face of a changing climate and higher temperatures! This is big news. I need to tell my friends and family. We sure do love it here…and I know people love the forest, too! I see them hiking and camping all the time. If they can help us, they’ll also be helping the forest.

I’m so grateful to the Conservation Canines for using their energy and scientific skills to make a difference here in New Mexico. I’d be grateful if you can help The Nature Conservancy in this effort too, by making a donation.  The agency is spearheading the project to save the salamanders!

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  1. The latest issue of National Geographic has an interesting article about the changing climate. My copy arrived today. I hope there really is something we can do for these little guys.

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