PORTLAND, Ore. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week designated more than 65,000 acres and 20 miles of river in Oregon and Washington as critical habitat for the Oregon spotted frog. The threatened Northwest amphibian has lost 90 percent of its former range and is no longer found in California.
Laurie Sada, field supervisor of the Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office, said her agency has been working with landowners to reach this habitat designation, which is mainly on federal land.
“It’s not a designation that prevents land use, especially for private landowners,” she said. “It’s a designation that helps identify areas that need to be considered when there’s federally funded projects.”
Sada said private land is not affected unless landowners are seeking a federal permit or grant. While the Center for Biological Diversity applauded the decision, it said the species had to wait 23 years to be protected under the Endangered Species Act, finally receiving threatened status in 2014.
Designating critical habitat is one part of the process for conservation of the spotted frog, which spends nearly its entire life in or near water. Another key component is water management. Paul Henson, supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office in Oregon, said the agency has been working with water irrigators on the Deschutes River to balance water needs for wildlife with human use.
“They recognize their need to help conserve water and keep as much water in the river as possible for the wildlife,” he said, “while meeting all of their customers needs for agricultural irrigation.”
The spotted frog’s critical habitat covers acreage and rivers in Deschutes, Jackson, Klamath, Lane and Wasco counties.
Copies of the critical habitat rule may be obtained at regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2013-0088.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service – OR
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