For Immediate Release, April 22, 2019
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (314) 482-3746, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 499-9185, email@example.com
George Sexton, KS Wild, (541) 778-8120, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawsuit Launched to Protect Rare Salamander in California, Oregon
SAN FRANCISCO— Conservation groups today filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to respond to a 2018 petition for Endangered Species Act protection for the Siskiyou Mountains salamander.
This rare terrestrial salamander lives only in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southern Oregon and Northern California, primarily in old-growth forests. The species is threatened by plans from the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management to increase logging in southern Oregon.
“This rare salamander is quickly losing habitat to logging and wildfire and needs protection before it disappears forever,” said Jeff Miller, senior conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “With the Trump administration dragging its feet on safeguarding this species, we have no choice but to go to court.”
“The threats to the Siskiyou Mountains salamander just keep getting worse while the Fish and Wildlife Service plays politics,” said George Sexton with KS Wild. “In particular the BLM and Forest Service decisions to target salamander habitat for post-fire logging need to stop if these iconic salamanders are to have a chance to survive and thrive.”
“This unique Pacific Northwest salamander deserves protections from impending extinction,” said Nick Cady with Cascadia Wildlands. “Not only does the species play an important ecological role by contributing to nutrient flow and soil health, this salamander is a distinct part of this region’s natural heritage.”
In March 2018 the Center for Biological Diversity, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Environmental Protection Information Center and Cascadia Wildlands filed a formal petition asking the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Siskiyou Mountains salamander under the Endangered Species Act.
The best habitat for the Siskiyou Mountains salamander (Plethodon stormi) is stabilized rock talus in old-growth forest, especially areas covered with thick moss. Mature forest canopy helps maintain a cool and stable moist microclimate where they can thrive.
There are two distinct populations of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander, separated by the mountain range’s crest. A larger northern population lives in the Applegate River drainage in southern Oregon, while the smaller southern population is in California’s Klamath River drainage. Most known Siskiyou Mountains salamander locations are on public lands managed by the BLM and the Forest Service.
Conservation groups first petitioned to protect the salamander under the Endangered Species Act in 2004. To prevent the species’ listing, the BLM and Fish and Wildlife Service agreed in 2007 to protect habitat for 110 high-priority salamander sites in the Applegate River watershed. In 2008 the Fish and Wildlife Service denied protection to the salamander based on this conservation agreement and old-growth forest protections provided by the Northwest Forest Plan.
Under the Northwest Forest Plan, the BLM and Forest Service were required to survey for rare species like the salamander and designate protected buffers from logging where the animals were found. But the Western Oregon Plan Revision adopted by the BLM in 2016 substantially increased logging allowed in western Oregon forests, undermining those habitat protections.