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PLF Sues To Challenge ESA Listing of Central California Tiger Salamander--Land Use in the Central Valley and Northern California is at Issue

Sacramento,CA; May 17, 2006: The federal government’s listing of the Central California Tiger Salamander as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act is invalid and illegal, according to a lawsuit filed today by Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF).

“The Central California Tiger Salamander has not been shown to be in danger,” said PLF Principal Attorney Reed Hopper. “To the contrary, it has more breeding sites in Central California than the government claims. There may be well over 800,000 members of the species, according to a review of up-to-date data by the Central California Tiger Salamander Coalition, a trade group. If federal officials believe differently, the law requires them to back up their belief with solid science, not hunches.”

The ESA listing of the Central California Tiger Salamander has led to restrictions on economic development and property rights in at least 19 counties in Central and Northern California (see list of counties where the species is found, below).

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Central California Tiger Salamander as “threatened” in late 2004. PLF argues that the listing violates federal law because: (1) the Service failed to use the best scientific data available and didn’t even try to estimate the current population of adult salamanders, even though it has the methodology to do so; and (2) the Service essentially ignored existing regulatory programs for protecting the salamander.

ESA protection is not needed because the species is thriving and is already protected. The Central California Tiger Salamander population has been identified in over 700 locations within occupied habitat covering more than 900,000 acres. There is an estimated 4.1 million acres of
suitable habitat for the salamander, much of which has never been surveyed for the presence of
the species. The Service itself acknowledged that 200,000 acres of occupied habitat for the Central California Tiger Salamander already enjoys permanent protection.

The Central California Tiger Salamander has been documented in the following counties: Alameda, Amador, Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Yolo.

PLF’s lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. PLF represents the Home Builders Association of Northern California; California Building Industry Association; and the Building Industry Legal Defense Foundation.

About Pacific Legal Foundation
Founded in 1973, Pacific Legal Foundation is the oldest, largest, and in the words of the Washington Post, “perhaps most influential” public interest legal organization dedicated to property rights protection, limited government, and individual rights



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