Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 28, 2014

Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

Oregon Spotted Frog Protected Under Endangered Species Act

Critical Habitat Designations to Follow in Oregon, Washington

PORTLAND, Ore.— In accordance with an agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity that speeds protection decisions for 757 species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today protected Oregon spotted frogs as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Once abundant from British Columbia to California, spotted frogs have disappeared from 90 percent of their former range, mostly due to the ongoing destruction of their wetland habitats. The frog has been waiting for protection since 1991.

“We’re so glad Oregon spotted frogs are finally getting the protection they need to survive,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “Protecting wetlands doesn’t just benefit these spotted frogs — it also helps people. It reduces flood danger, preserves water quality, and provides habitat for a lot of other wildlife species.”

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. 

Last year the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed designating 68,000 acres and 24 stream miles as critical habitat for the frog in 14 units, 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. The agency did not finalize that habitat today, but stated that it will soon. 

“Now that the Oregon spotted frog is protected, we can begin the difficult job of recovering them to more of their historic habitat,” 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 thrilling if we could again hear these frogs in Portland, Seattle and so many other places they once called home.”

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 131 species have been protected under the agreement, and another 12 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. Trespass cattle, however, continue to threaten the population, and the groups are again in court to press the Forest Service to improve management. Threats to many of the other populations also persist. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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