47,000 Acres of Critical Habitat Protected for California Tiger Salamander

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47,000 Acres of Critical Habitat Protected for California Tiger Salamander

From Center for Biological Diversity, August 2011

In response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today designated 47,383 acres as protected critical habitat for the Sonoma County population of the California tiger salamander. The designation, which reverses a 2005 Bush administration decision that didn’t protect any habitat, protects the most important habitats for the salamander on the Santa Rosa Plain.

"Today’s decision is based on solid science and will give the California tiger salamander and its vernal pool habitat in Sonoma County a shot at recovery,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “Protection of habitat for the California tiger salamander will benefit thousands of species on the rich Santa Rosa Plain and ensure that this beautiful area isn’t entirely paved over with strip malls."

The tiger salamander once occupied all of the Santa Rosa Plain but today is found in only a few scattered locations, where it faces severe threats from urban sprawl, roads and pesticides. It breeds in vernal pools that form during winter rains and then spends much of the rest of the year in underground burrows formed by small mammals in California’s increasingly rare grasslands and oak woodlands. The salamander is striking, with a wide mouth outlined in yellow that gives it the appearance of smiling.

“The Sonoma County population of California tiger salamanders is part of the unique natural heritage of the Santa Rosa Plain and is worth saving,” said Greenwald. “Sadly it’s on the brink of extinction, with its few remaining populations isolated by urban sprawl and roads. We’re pleased to see that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has followed the science in this case by protecting habitat for the salamander.”