Editorial: Something for everyone in frog proposal

July 29, 2014
Editorial: Something for everyone in frog proposal

A proposed conservation agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bill Smith and the other owners of the Old Mill District in Bend does something for everyone.

At the center of it all is the Oregon spotted frog. It has been proposed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The frog is found in the Sunriver area and, recently, in the marshy land along the Deschutes River where it runs through the Old Mill District. A fish and wildlife service decision on listing the frog is expected late this summer.

If the conservation agreement becomes official, fish and wildlife officials — and frogs — get assurances that habitat along the river through the Old Mill District will not be degraded. Smith proposes, among other things, making improvements to a fly-casting pond on district property. He also would take steps to maintain or improve habitat at other sites along the river. He would remove invasive non-native plants and animals, and assure that human traffic gives a wide berth to areas where the frog lives.

In return, Smith and the district’s other owners would get 20 years worth of assurances that listing the frog would create no new restrictions on their use of the land along the river.

Agreements like the one Smith proposes have clear benefits to the fish and wildlife service — a willing partner in its effort to save the frog — and to Smith and others like him — the right to know they will not be hit by further restrictions on what they do in the near future.

They do something else, as well, if they work right. If they’re put in place early, they can help prevent the listing of a species that seems headed for trouble. The early assistance for the frog should cost less and be more effective than a last-ditch effort would be.

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