Yellow-legged frog on rock by Kuyper

A young yellow-legged frog sitting on a rock.

Following a lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has proposed listing four populations of foothill yellow-legged frogs in the Sierra Nevada and central and southern California.

CBD said the frogs have disappeared from more than 50 percent of their historic habitat in the state, and they claim the species has dwindled for a multitude of reasons, including livestock grazing, logging, dams, water diversions and pesticide use. 

The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) has sued the Biden administration on behalf of one of their rancher members, claiming that listing the southwestern willow flycatcher under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has caused harm to their member’s property values and livelihood. 

“Protecting these precious creatures will also help safeguard the coastal and Sierra foothill rivers and creeks we all rely on for clean drinking water and recreation,” said Jeff Miller, a CBD senior conservation advocate.

USFWS is proposing to list four of the six distinct population segments of the frog after an agency review determined two populations to be endangered and an additional two populations to be threatened. However, USFWS was unable to determine designation of critical habitat in their review.

“Due to a court-ordered settlement agreement for completing our 12-month finding for the species, we have not been able to obtain the necessary economic information needed to develop a proposed critical habitat designation for the foothill yellow-legged frog,” USFWS’ proposed rule read.

“Once we obtain the necessary economic information, we will propose a critical habitat designation for the species.”

The service proposes to prohibit “take” or harm of the frogs, including through “livestock grazing that damages riparian habitat.” Exceptions are proposed for wildfire prevention, fuel management plans that include measures to minimize impact and stream habitat restoration, among others.

The agency is accepting public comments on the proposal until Feb. 28. Comments may be submitted at regulations.gov by searching for docket number FWS-R8-ES-2021-0108 or by mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2021-0108, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/3W, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803. Anna Miller, WLJ managing editor

 

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