The Largest Population of an Endangered Species Lives at… SFO!

South San Francisco, CA June 18, 2021 h/t Robert Riechel Reports Originated SFO

Study finds Airport’s undeveloped West-of-Bayshore property has the largest, most stable population of an endangered snake species


A study commissioned by the U.S Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service found that the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has the largest, most stable population of an endangered species, the San Francisco garter snake, residing in its West-of-Bayshore property.


This 180-acre undeveloped parcel of wetlands and uplands, located across the highway from SFO’s terminal complex, is off-limits to the public and supports populations of two federally protected species: the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog.


The study was published in PLoS One last year and estimated a population of approximately 1,300 snakes at the site, the largest concentration of any known location. It also noted that the Airport’s efforts to enhance the habitat facilitated the abundant population despite the fact that this land is located within an urban setting.


“I am proud of the findings in this study,” said SFO Wildlife Biologist Natalie Reeder. “These results validate the environmental stewardship programs we have in place, to ensure endangered species can survive and thrive at SFO.”


In addition to providing a year-round habitat for two protected species, the West of Bayshore property also plays host to an annual visit by goats, who graze in the area for several weeks to create a fire break during the dry summer season. This minimally invasive approach eliminates the need for mechanized mowing equipment which could impact the protected species. The goats will be making their annual visit this week.


In 2008, SFO launched its Recovery Action Plan to stabilize or increase the populations of the two protected species through a variety of habitat enhancement actions.


In 2014, SFO was recognized with an Environmental Achievement Award by the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) for its Recovery Action Plan.


For more information on SFO’s stewardship of the West-of-Bayshore property, please visit:

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments