Breathing Room for the Red-Legged Frog

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Proposes Raising Critical Habitat to 180,000 Acres

Santa Barbara County’s red-legged frogs could see their critical habitat increased from 123,000 acres to 180,000 if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s latest proposal - issued this week - is adopted. That’s still substantially smaller than the 503,000 acres initially proposed in 2001 for the frog celebrated by Mark Twain in his famous short story, the “Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” and declared an endangered species in 1996. Critical habitat is the amount of space federal biologists deem essential for a species to recover. Statewide, the feds initially proposed 4.1 million acres as critical habitat for the red-legged frog, but under pressure from the building industry, the Bush administration reduced that to 737,000 acres. That in turn sparked a lawsuit by Center for Biological Diversity charging the scientific integrity of the decision-making process had been corrupted. And that in turn led to the latest revisions.

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