Endangered species listing for Sierra Nevada frogs sparks controversy

From The Tahoe Daily Tribune, May 22, 2014:


The Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog

TAHOE NATIONAL FOREST, Calif. — The listing of three amphibians native to the Sierra Nevada has spurred a range of reactions, with wildlife advocates celebrating the decision and others expressing dismay.

Officials upset with the listing say it will have an undue detrimental impact on the regional economies, while ultimately failing to address the underlying cause for the population decline.

On April 25, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to grant protection under the federal Endangered Species Act to two distinct species of Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs and the Yosemite toad.

“We have determined that both the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog … and the mountain yellow-legged frog are presently in danger of extinction throughout their entire ranges, based on the immediacy, severity and scope of the threats to their continued existence,” said the final ruling issued by the USFWS.

“These include habitat degradation and fragmentation, predation and disease, climate change, inadequate regulatory protections and the interaction of these various stressors impacting small remnant populations.”

The April decision was prompted by the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the nation’s foremost wildlife advocacy groups. The center initially petitioned the USFWS on behalf of the frog species in 2000 and followed up on behalf of the toad species in 2002.

“Yellow-legged frogs and Yosemite toads have suffered massive declines in recent decades and disappeared from most of the places where they once lived,” said Collette Adkins Giese, a center biologist and lawyer who specializes in protecting amphibians and reptiles. “The Endangered Species Act has a nearly perfect record of stopping animals from going extinct — it’s hands-down our best tool for saving these rare amphibians.”

While the center is exuberant over the listing, several grassroots organizations and regional political representatives fret that the decision could present onerous restrictions on human activity within the nearly 2 million-acre swath of land that has been designated as critical habitat for the species.

Continue reading here: http://www.tahoedailytribune.com/news/11521389-113/species-lamalfa-listing-forest

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