Wednesday, April 23, 2014

County critiques yellow-legged frog studies

From page A1 | August 23, 2013 | 13 Comments

Congressman Tom McClintock and seven other California representatives successfully petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to extend the public comment period regarding the mountain yellow-legged frog and Yosemite toad. The federal agency has proposed listing the two amphibians as endangered species and recommended a critical habitat designation that would effectively close about 2 million acres in the Sierra Nevada and foothills to most public activities.
The original deadline was June 24, but after urgent complaints from multiple jurisdictions that they needed at least 90 days more to study the issue as it related to them, USFWS Acting Regional Director Alexandra Pitts granted an extension through Nov. 18.
McClintock sponsored a forum Aug. 6 in Sonora that featured a PowerPoint show by Pitts and presentations by representatives from Tuolumne, Calaveras, Siskiyou and El Dorado counties. Mike Applegarth, principal analyst with the Chief Administrative Office, represented El Dorado County.
Controversy surrounds the “science” related to the mountain yellow-legged frog, less the two other species listed by the USFWS, the Yosemite Toad and the southern mountain yellow-legged frog, which is described as a separate and distinct population.
The federal agency asserts that non-native trout, a specific fungus and human activity are responsible for a serious decline in the Sierra populations of  the MYL Frog. Introduction of non-native trout to the frog’s habitat is a result of human activity as it represents fish-planting by public and private agencies.
Fish and Wildlife documents cite about 300 scientific studies that tend to support that conclusion at first reading, according to Applegarth.
Applegarth shared his pre-conference notes with the Mountain Democrat last week. In his introduction, he acknowledges that he is a “local government analyst,” who “like many in the audience today have no formal scientific training.”
He continues, however, to note that he discovered inconsistencies between the existing studies and the conclusions reached by the USFWS. The federal agency concludes that “recreational activities, dams and water diversions, livestock grazing, timber management, road construction and fire management” have “degraded habitat in ways that have compromised the frogs capacity to sustain viable populations,” Applegarth quotes.
And while the documentation is “overwhelming,” he writes, “the science is not overwhelming, only its application. In other words, the ‘science’ doesn’t appear to make the case that U.S. Fish and Wildlife suggests.”
Highlighting elements of some of those studies, Applegarth writes that the direct effects of recreation activities on the frog’s decline “have not been implicated” and that “studies have not been conducted to determine” such effects. Likewise, he quotes, “The extent of the impact to mountain yellow-legged frog populations from habitat loss or modification due to (dams and water diversion) has not been quantified.”
Citing his review of the scientific literature, Applegarth notes that the impact of grazing, timber harvesting and fire management activities has not been adequately studied and states, “In short the premise that the decline in species population is due to human activity is unsubstantiated.”
What is killing the yellow-legged frog? Non-native trout, planted in previously “fishless” ponds and streams, have been identified as a significant cause of depredation. More deadly, however, has been disease from a specific fungus known as “(Bd)” which has been called a “worldwide amphibian epidemic.”
On its own Website, the U.S. National Park Service describes only these two factors as the culprits causing decline of the mountain yellow-legged frog.
In his and fellow representatives’  written request to the USFWS, McClintock describes the impact to the local economy as “devastating” if the frog listings and designations of critical habitat become policy. Proposed restrictions on logging, mining, recreation, grazing, fishing and fish stocking pose such a severe threat that the public needs adequate time to prepare responses and plan ways to deal with the issues, McClintock says in his request for a time extension.
The extension to November is a first step in what is known to be a lengthy process that will include environmental impact statements (federal version of an EIR), periods of public comment, publication of draft EIS, more public comment and preparation of a final EIS.
Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or Follow @CDaleyMtDemo. 


Discussion | 13 comments

  • Fran DuchampAugust 23, 2013 - 8:07 am

    There talk of closing off this park--people were fighting it is on fire....just saying. Tourists, residents flee huge fire near Yosemite .

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  • robertdnollAugust 23, 2013 - 9:56 am

    i have been catching trout in the sierra for over forty years and when i clean them i look at what they have been eating,crawdads and insect larva yes,never a frog or toad

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  • Fish GuyAugust 23, 2013 - 4:51 pm

    Amphibians are declining throughout the West. No one knows why.

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  • cookie65August 24, 2013 - 5:32 am

    I wonder how many Yosemite toads have been barbequed because of policies being pushed to "protect" them. It is a good thing all those tree huggers have saved the forest from logging, so it can be incinerated instead. Allowing leftism to have any participation in governance is a death sentence.

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  • Bill E.August 24, 2013 - 7:43 am

    Frogs all over the world have died after contracting a fungus. It was acid rain, pesticides abuse, human intervention only to finally discover it was the fish from previous F&G activities in alpine lakes. This is not a habitat issue, but it is a taking by those who do not own the land. The result is an eminent domain like action without the compensation on private land and another attempt to restrict public access to public lands. The politics of science is on display one more time...

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  • EvelynAugust 24, 2013 - 8:01 am

    Bill E: Thank you for the entirety of your above comment. I note your point about eminent domain, which increasingly has become acceptable to local authorities.

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  • Fran DuchampAugust 24, 2013 - 8:28 am

    It is very hard to breathe this morning--due to smoke. We are heading to the Apple hill " kick off" coming soon---wonder who will come--if they cant breath.

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  • Pat SnellingAugust 24, 2013 - 2:20 pm

    The yellow-legged frog's critical habitat is ABOVE 4000'....... Placerville is at 1800' ...... The frog is found in WETLANDS... not in parking lots..... Let us have a REAL discussion on FACTS.....

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  • cookie65August 25, 2013 - 6:41 am

    Pat, a REAL discussion on FACTS never bodes well for those who have assigned themselves to be the overseers of our every movement and action. Victimization, whether it be frogs, spiders, snakes or people, has been discovered to be a very useful sledge hammer for a tiny minority to dictate all their view of the world on everyone else. If they can use it to confiscate trillions of dollars (which they have) they can use it to keep you out of the forest. Facts have been labeled as discriminatory and racist.

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  • JLMAugust 25, 2013 - 11:49 pm

    Last year in June I was at Toulumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park and camping across the street from our site was an entire crew of summer volunteers who were getting ready to hike up to the higher lakes with their fish nets and hand saws and axes. I asked the group leader what they were doing and she told me she was spending the summer leading crews to clear the fish from the lakes and repair trails where huge windfalls of trees had blown over on them from the hundred mile an hour winds of the previous winter. What is notable is that the yellow legged frogs were not in their habitat but the volunteers were going to kill the fish so they could possibly move in to the area and the volunteers had to use hand tools instead of small chain saws to clear the trees from the trails; they had to use hand tools because noise would disturb the critters who did live there. She had a blank look on her face when I asked her if the thousands of trees that blew down in hundred mile an hour winds did not disturb them??? "No that was a natural occurrence!" Somehow the failed science of all the Wildlands Act has been going on since I can remember asking the USFS in a meeting in Sacramento 30 yrs ago about seeding the 5 plants on willing private gabbros soil as part of landscaping. These do not grow unless you burn the cover of scrub oak and manzanita to help them and their habitat location was done by blackmailing the County and EID to buy property in the middle of Cameron Park where they cannot burn the over layer as CA air quality will not let that happen! Then you have the Spotted Owls who have been found to be matting with barred owls and both are plentiful so the USFWS is going to kill off Barred Owls so the species does not mix. There is so much more to be brought out about the failed EPA's methodology for trying to keep their rice bowls full and to remove and destroy private property and public access to public lands. It would take a mountain of documents from all of their, "reports" stored on multiple shelves in closets in government agencies to show how stupidity is grown into greed. This will not stop unless the people most effected want it stopped and they are not paying attention. Thanks to Congressman Tom McClintock for trying to make everyone aware of the economic impact. It will be devastating to the Sierra Nevada's where the economy is already leaving ghost businesses and towns. Just drive up and down Hwy 395 or Hwy 89 and envision no human activities but passing government vehicles! It is also not just the Sierra Nevada, it is all over the Western USA. I have seen enough in the past two years to believe that once the rural areas are destroyed for the recreation and small amounts of mining and timber there will be no public access and the rough facets of the Wildlands Act will see the real agenda start to develop! This is another main part of Agenda 21's biodiversity treaty that was thought to be a conspiracy theory that is now vindicating those of us who foresaw and knew what was happening and to speak of this was to be subjected to ridicule. The War on the West is not a conspiracy theory, it is real and now others must do their research and stop the impacts and regulations or live with the results.

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  • Fran DuchampAugust 31, 2013 - 9:01 am

    Science must not impose any philosophy, any more than the telephone must tell us what to say. -G.K.Chesterton

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  • EvelynAugust 31, 2013 - 9:04 am

    Exceedingly good quote, Fran!

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  • Fran DuchampAugust 31, 2013 - 9:16 am

    Good morning Miss Evelyn.

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