By Eric Tegethoff
Washington News Service
SEATTLE – More than 65,000 acres and 20 miles of river in Washington and Oregon have been protected as critical habitat for the Oregon spotted frog. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the designation this week for the species, which has lost 90 percent of its former range.
Fish and Wildlife biologist Deanna Lynch said the designation shouldn’t worry property owners.
“A lot of people freak out at critical habitat being designated on their properties,” she said. “For us in western Washington in particular, a lot of cases where there’s spotted frogs currently is due to the land-management practices that the private landowners have been implementing for a long time.”
The spotted frog first became a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1991, but did receive threatened status until 2014. Formerly found as far south as California, the amphibian has disappeared completely from that state.
In the past, Lynch said, development was a threat to spotted frogs in Washington. Now, invasive species of vegetation are a bigger concern to their preservation. Lynch said her agency also is trying to balance the needs of other endangered species, especially fish – that share their habitat with the frogs.
“Our bigger ongoing work is to get the message out to be able to manage for multi-species and create habitat that will benefit all species,” she said.
The spotted frog’s critical habitat covers land and rivers in Klickitat, Skagit, Skamania, Thurston and Whatcom counties in Washington.
Copies of the critical habitat rule may be obtained at regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2013-0088.