No one disputes the fact that the yellow-legged frog is declining in population, but there is a difference of opinion on how to reverse the trend.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to declare 2.2 million acres of land in 16 counties critical habitat for the yellow-legged frog. Another million acres is proposed for other species including the Yosemite toad.
In Plumas County, 69,252 acres of federal land and 6,192 acres of private land would be impacted. In Sierra County, it’s 13,945 federal and 1,758 private.
Designation as critical habitat would severely impact allowed land uses.
The yellow-legged frog
Endangered status: federal candidate species and California candidate endangered species.
Physical description of adults: Pattern on back highly variable, ranging from a few large to many small discrete dark spots within a variably colored mosaic of pale spots of different sizes and shapes; back usually a mixture of brown and yellow, but often gray, red or green-brown; underside of hind legs yellow; throat white or yellow.
Size: Up to 3-1/2 inches long.
Habitat: High mountain lakes, ponds, tarns and steams; rarely found more than 3 feet from water.
Reproduction: Eggs laid as snow begins to melt; egg mass may be as small as a walnut or as large as a grapefruit; tadpoles take up to four years to metamorphose into adults.
Population status: 95 percent decline.
Threats: Non-native fish, disease, airborne contaminants.
“The designation of critical habitat doesn’t address the reasons for the frogs decline and serve no purpose towards restoration,” the Plumas County Board of Supervisors wrote in a letter to Fish and Wildlife. “The placement of restrictions only serves to further impact rural economies and eliminate logging, mining and recreation, which are all important to rural economies.”
The decline in the frog population is attributed to the introduction of non-native fish and disease.
The supervisors propose that Fish and Wildlife implement a program to remove non-native fish from mountain lakes and fund research to control Batrachochytrium dendrobatis, a fungus that causes disease in frogs.
“These two simple approaches will restore the frog and maintain the economic vitality of rural counties,” the board wrote.
During their June 18 meeting, the supervisors approved sending a letter to Fish and Wildlife voicing these suggestions, as well as another requesting that a public hearing be held in Plumas County regarding the matter.
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