"Frogga Walla": Prison Convicts Raise Endangered Frogs

Sal holds a Political Science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
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The Oregon spotted frog. (Photo: Northwest Trek)

In a way, James Goodall and Harry Greer are no different than millions of other caregivers of younglings. Are the little ones fed properly? Are they bullied in social settings? When will they be ready for the real world?

Except this duo's caregiving environment isn't a house in the 'burbs—it's a prison. Goodall, 45, and Greer, 46, are convicts rearing hundreds of endangered Oregon spotted frogs.

Serving time at Washington’s Cedar Creek Correctional Center for drug possession and armed robbery, respectively, Goodall and Greer spend up to nine hours each day caring for the endangered frogs in a fenced off-area behind the prison called “Frogga Walla.”

"We baby them like little kids," said Goodall, to The Olympian.

"People may not think prisons are the right place for this type of environmental work, but it's the ideal place," said Chad Lewis, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, to The Olympian. "We have folks with plenty of time in a controlled environment. That's what you need."

While Washington first classified the Oregon spotted frog as endangered in 1997, it wasn’t until 2008 that the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife allocated funds for Goodall and Greer’s rehabilitation program.

According to The Olympian:

Eggs are gathered each winter and distributed to Cedar Creek, Northwest Trek, the Oregon Zoo in Portland and Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. The amphibians then are coddled and cared for over a nine-month span in a 300-gallon tank before being released in the wetlands at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Greer and Goodall's frog-rearing dedication isn’t just a heart-warming story of convicts doing good—the pair's efforts have yielded tangible results.

According to The Olympian:

The frogs Greer and Goodall raised are larger (57 grams) and have a higher survival rate (83 percent) than those from the other participating agencies.

Buoyed by the prisoners’ success, the program as a whole has paid off.

Twice as many frogs were released in 2010—1,346—as in 2009.

Cedar Creek, a 500-inmate minimum-security prison, has long been known as a place where prisoners can partake in environmental programs. In recent years, inmates have fought fires, grown organic gardens, and raised honey bees, according to The Seattle Times.

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