Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 21, 2015

Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495,

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Deschutes River Oregon Spotted Frogs
From Damaging Dam Management

PORTLAND, Ore.— The Center for Biological Diversity today submitted a formal notice of intent to sue the Bureau of Reclamation over operation and maintenance of the Crane Prairie and Wickiup dams, which are harming the Oregon spotted frog on the Deschutes River. In accordance with a settlement agreement with the Center, the frog was protected in August 2014 as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This protection triggered a duty for the Bureau to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and adjust dam management to ensure it is not jeopardizing the survival of the frog, neither of which it has done.

“The Oregon spotted frog is one of the most imperiled amphibians in the world,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “The Bureau of Reclamation needs to step up and ensure that management of these two Deschutes River dams doesn’t drive the Oregon spotted frog to extinction.”

The frog lives both upstream and downstream of the two dams and is harmed when the reservoirs are rapidly drawn down in the spring, stranding egg masses, and when the level of the river is raised flooding important frog habitat. These problems can likely be fixed with minimal impact to irrigation deliveries, but it will take some care on the part of the Bureau. 

The frog was once common from British Columbia to Northern California along numerous rivers and lakes, including the Deschutes and Willamette, but has undergone massive declines mostly because of loss of its wetland habitats. Today there are fewer than 100 known sites where the frog still survives.

“The fate of the Oregon spotted frog is intimately tied to the health of our rivers and streams,” said Greenwald. “As we've dammed, channelized and polluted rivers across the Northwest and beyond, species like the frog have suffered. By saving these animals, we'll almost certainly improve the health of the Deschutes and other Northwest rivers.”

The Center is represented in litigation by Laurie Rule and Elizabeth Zultoski of Advocates for the West. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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