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For Immediate Release, August 28, 2013

Contact:  Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

Oregon Spotted Frog Proposed for Endangered Species Protection,
Plus 68,000 Acres of Protected Critical Habitat in Washington and Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Endangered Species Act protection for Oregon spotted frogs today, following a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity to speed protection of 757 species. The agency also proposed to designate more than 68,000 acres and 24 stream miles as protected “critical habitat” for the animals. Once abundant from British Columbia to California, spotted frogs have disappeared from 90 percent of their former range, mostly because their wetland habitats are being destroyed.

“Oregon spotted frogs have been closing in on extinction for over 20 years,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center. “Now finally they’re being thrown a lifeline, and it’s a huge relief.”

The Oregon spotted frog once occurred throughout the Willamette Valley, Puget Trough and elsewhere. Today there are fewer than 100 known sites where the frog still survives. The species is threatened by habitat loss, disease, introduced fish and contaminants, and in particular has suffered from the massive loss of wetlands next to rivers and streams. 

A total of 14 critical habitat units are proposed for the frog, including sites in the Chilliwack, Nooksack, Samish, Black and White Salmon watersheds in Washington and the Deschutes, Little Deschutes, McKenzie, Willamette, Williamson and Klamath watersheds in Oregon.  

“Protecting the Oregon spotted frog will have real benefits for people because the wetland habitats needed by the frog prevent flooding, clean our water and provide habitat for a wide diversity of fish and wildlife,” said Greenwald. “The calls of spotted frogs sound like woodpeckers, though they’re often delivered underwater. And they’re just as much a part of our Pacific Northwest heritage as the bugling of Roosevelt elk or the hooting of spotted owls. It would be heartbreaking if those calls went silent.”

The spotted frog was first recognized as a candidate for Endangered Species Act protection in 1991. In 2011 the Center and the Fish and Wildlife Service reached a settlement to speed protections for all the species on the candidate waiting list as of 2010 and for a host of other species that had been petitioned for protection. So far 103 species have been protected under the agreement, and another 60 have been proposed for protection.

In 2008 the Center and its allies sued to challenge cattle grazing near one of the frog’s remaining sites, along Jack Creek in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. In response to that lawsuit, the U.S. Forest Service installed a three-mile fence to exclude cattle from the frog’s breeding grounds in Jack Creek.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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