Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Frog delay welcome

We congratulate the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for agreeing to a 120-day delay on listing the yellow-legged frog and the Yosemite toad as endangered species and setting aside 1.8 million acres as critical habitat.

Among the groups besides local officials that were upset over the limited comment period were the California Farm Bureau. Joining the CFB were the California Cattlemen’s Association, California Wool Growers Association, the Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

The USFWS seems to have uncritically accepted the claims of environmental organizations that cattle grazing is having some effect on yellow legged frogs.

In the April 25 Federal Register the USFWS wrote the following: “However, other human activities have played a role in the modification of mountain yellow-legged frog habitats and the curtailment of their range. The aggregation of these threats has degraded and fragmented habitats rangewide to a significant extent. These threats include: Recreational activities, fish introductions, dams and water diversions, livestock grazing, timber management, road construction and maintenance, and fire management activities. Such activities have degraded habitat in ways that have reduced their capacity to sustain viable populations and have fragmented and isolated mountain yellow-legged frog populations from each other.”

The California Farm Bureau and its associated groups, however, said the USFWS “had ignored scientific findings that conclude livestock grazing is an unlikely factor in declines of the species’ populations,”  wrote Assistant Ag Alert Editor Kate Campbell in the July 10 issue.

“The USFWS should rely only on factors that have been plainly demonstrated to be major drivers in the declining populations — disease and trout stocking,” said the joint letter from CFB and the livestock groups. “An analysis of how disease and fish stocking may be mitigated in a way that will result in stabilization and ultimate growth of the population is necessary.”

Besides blaming cattle, the USFWS also blames hikers: “Recreational foot traffic in riparian areas tramples the vegetation, compacts the soils, and can physically damage the streambanks.” Oh, and those fishermen are trampling the lakes’ shorelines.

But the craziest notion is global warming is killing off the frogs. Well, if there really is global warming and it really is boiling frogs, then nothing the Fish and Wildlife Service can do will stop it. This is a major nonsequitur and total nonsense.

But stop the Federal Register presses. Global temperatures have been flat for the last 15 years, according to Dr. Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville. So much for slow boiling frogs. The Federal Register has one reference to disease. It should do nothing but talk about disease. It’s a fungus that’s killing off the yellow-legged frogs and it’s being transmitted by the Pacific chorus frog, which is migrating upstream and across land and carrying its fungus to which it is largely immune and to which the yellow-legged frog is highly susceptible.

Critical habitat designation, from the descriptions listed above sounds like it is going to exclude anglers, hikers, cattle and timber harvesting. The Federal Register even blames fire fighting in the decline of the frogs.

The ultimate culprit is fungal disease, which, according to Professor Vance Vredenburg of San Francisco State University, has shrunken the Sierra yellow-legged frog to 5 percent of its former range.

Critical habitat designation isn’t going to do diddly-squat for the yellow-legged frog. Figuring out how to give it immunity to the fungus ought to be the highest priority.

Mountain Democrat


Discussion | 8 comments

  • FranJuly 29, 2013 - 6:49 am


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  • rodJuly 29, 2013 - 9:06 am

    Is the bigger picture coming into focus? The fact that EPA/USFWS (Dept of Interior) /CBD/CDFW will use ANY reason, natural, unnatural, speculative and outright fraudulent to justify protecting species… but really controlling the land, the water… and you and I.

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  • Carol S.July 29, 2013 - 9:45 am

    Tom McClintock has invited his constituents to comment on FWS’s proposed protection of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, the northern distinct population segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog, and the Yosemite toad. As a biology writer and concerned citizen, I feel this proposal should go forward. For about the past 30 to 40 years, amphibian populations have been shrinking worldwide. Many causes have been suggested, but no one has been able to link the decline to any one factor. It may be loss of suitable wet habitat for the early stages in their life cycle, a fungal disease that has spread rapidly, a decline in the insects they need as food, or something else. What is certain is that something in the animals’ environment has gone wrong. By taking steps to protect frogs and toads, which may seem unimportant, we are also protecting our own environment. Being central links in the food web, frogs and toads are needed as prey for larger animals, and as predators on smaller (possibly harmful to humans) ones. If they disappear, the ramifications can be very broad. McClintock is of course concerned about how this proposal will affect humans, especially those of us in his Congressional district. In particular, he says that it may “close the region to any conceivable productive activity,” but a damaged environment is the most nonproductive result imaginable! Yosemite and the Merced River are not only important natural resources; they are tourist attractions that affect California’s economy. We do not need to encourage housing and shopping mall developments; developers will find new places for them, or redevelop already damaged areas. What we do need is to protect the animals and plants that share our ecosystem, so that we can also preserve the larger environment.

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  • FranJuly 29, 2013 - 11:48 am

    The whole thing is based on lies. Around the world--people are more interested in "carbon" trading than humans, animals or reptiles...wake-up Carol. It is just more land where humans cant go--and once someone gives it away--no one is giving it back...for free anyway.

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  • rodJuly 29, 2013 - 7:01 pm

    Carol S, Perhaps you mean well, but your naivete is astonishing! First these new proposals to lock up 2 million MORE acres of public land have nothing to do with protecting frogs, it was a SETTLEMENT from CBD so they could make money off the taxpayers. Second, For those few species that truly are endangered, meaning in their native habitat and at a single minimum viable population, we must be very careful. For who are we in our educated ignorance that we might decide the fate of a species, likely for eternity. But the frogs are disappearing world wide. Disease resistance will emerge in a new population that will be more vigorous, Its nature's way. The USFWS and their NGO's just want control... and the money. Quantitative intervention, the unnecessary progressive taking of private land, closings of public land or limiting access is destroying our productivity, our prosperity, our freedoms. Contriving habitat beyond the need of a wholesome viable population is unsustainable and dangerous for all species. Decline of our agriculture, jobs, economy and Constitutional rights is a result of knee-jerk legislation. And it has accelerated, in our system of checks and balances it has gone unchecked. It’s an undeniable fact, ‘strategic planning’ from congressional wisdom is simply absent, it is nothing more than myopic overreach based on what they are told, sold… sued or bribed by environmental special interests. These lobbies represent a form of religion and the EPA has capitalized on it by writing whatever regulations they want. No matter how well intended, or well corrupted the system is, eventually, if our nation is not strong enough to protect the unprotected, who then will pick up the banner? Presently, we are the only nation on earth willing to destroy ourselves for the religion of environmentalism, Enviroligion.

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  • cookie65July 30, 2013 - 8:17 am

    1.8 million acres for a frog is the definition of obscene. Those more noble than all us regressives who lack the understanding of the groupthink leftists won't be denied access. Some flatlander took a wrong turn off the freeway, got lost in the forest and discovered frogs live there so they are gonna rope it off as an act of compassion for the frog. Ask the pinheads one question, what is the natural habitat for man? We have clueless people who find their way into positions of power thru the peter principle in government and set out to force their religion on the rest of humanity. When do the people demand separation of church and state with regard to the econazi's forcing their religion on us?

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  • 1036-FrankJuly 30, 2013 - 7:43 pm

    The likes of Fiend-steen and Boxcar have already locked up millions of acres as new "Wilderness" also expanded National Parks to take away access to millions of additional acres, now the feds want another 2 million for a start at "protecting" the frogs without knowing for sure what to protect them from, this 2 mill could easily expand to the entire Sierra. Our forefathers fled Europe after the King claimed all lands and locked up those who entered these royal land preserves. Why does this govt. now slowly but surely want the public land off limits to the public?

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  • EvelynAugust 01, 2013 - 2:53 pm

    “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite. - President Eisenhower 1960

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