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300 acres added in Klamath County;
Comments sought on land for endangered amphibian
by LACEY JARRELL, Herald and News 6/18/14
     The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking comments for a revised Oregon spotted frog critical habitat proposal and a newly released economic analysis of associated costs.

   The agency expects to list the Oregon spotted frog as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in mid-August, according to Laurie Sada, the USFWS Klamath office field supervisor.

   Sada said the habitat designation revisions, including adding 309 acres of critical habitat, are based upon information given during a comment period that opened when the proposal for ESA protection was announced in August 2013.

   According to federal documents, feedback from the first comment period indicated officials did not include the Oregon spotted frog’s full geographic range, and   much of the new habitat contains vital features for conserving the species. As a result, the USFWS proposes adding critical habitat acreage in the Upper Klamath, Upper Klamath Lake, Williamson River and Lower Deschutes River units.

   In all, officials may designate 68,500 acres and 24 stream miles throughout Washington and Oregon as critical habitat for the disappearing amphibian.

   The proposed critical habitat 30-day public comment period opens today and closes July 18.

   “Our intent is to have (the designation) finalized by early fall, but that will depend on the results of the comments,” Sada said.

   Comments submitted during the first period do not need to be resubmitted, although stakeholders are welcome to submit additional information, Sada said.     Amphibian’s traditional habitat has been reduced by more than three-fourths

   “Their original comments are already in the record and being addressed,” she said.

   The economic analysis evaluates the additional costs of adding critical habitat to the ESA listing, Sada said. According to a news release, the analysis estimates administrative costs related to the critical habitat designation will be $190,000.

   Due to threats posed by habitat destruction and the introduction of   exotic predators, such as bullfrogs, the Oregon spotted frog was identified as a candidate for ESA protection in 1993. According to the USFWS, the Oregon spotted frog’s historic range has been reduced by at least 76 percent, maybe as much as 90 percent. Oregon spotted frogs historic range included Oregon, California and Washington.

   The Oregon spotted frog critical habitat designation proposal and economic analysis can be viewed here: http://  tinyurl.com/onpj5jv  . Comments can be submitted to the USFWS electronically at regulations.gov.

    ljarrell@heraldandnews.com  ; @LMJatHandN
  A recent expansion of land designated for the endangered spotted frog (seen at right) includes a large portion of territory in Klamath County. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking comments from the public on this new designation.

   Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife




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