Service Announces Draft Recovery Plan to Guide Conservation Efforts for Endangered California Tiger Salamanders in Santa Barbara County

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today the publication of a draft Recovery Plan to guide conservation efforts the federally endangered California tiger salamander in Santa Barbara County. The draft Recovery Plan lays out a strategy to recover the Santa Barbara County Distinct Population Segment of the California tiger salamander by recommending actions to alleviate the primary threats impacting the species including habitat loss and fragmentation.

The Service is providing an opportunity for public and stakeholder comments and input on the draft Recovery Plan from April 24 to June 23, 2015.

“Collaboration with multiple private and local government entities is imperative to successful conservation efforts for this species,” said Steve Henry, Field Supervisor of the Service’s Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office. “This recovery plan provides a road map for recommended recovery actions and opportunities for landowners to assist in species recovery.”

California tiger salamanders in Santa Barbara County are the most genetically distinct from other populations of the species, having been separated from them for at least 740,000 years. The Santa Barbara County population of California tiger salamanders was listed as endangered in 2000 under the federal Endangered Species Act due to habitat degradation as land was converted for large-scale, intensive agricultural use and urban development. Currently, the majority of known California tiger salamanders in Santa Barbara County exist on private lands.

In spring of 2014, the first conservation bank for the species in Santa Barbara County was established, providing an opportunity for project developers to mitigate impacts to the species, while preserving a large, contiguous area of salamander habitat near Lompoc.

“Conservation banks are just one tool in the recovery toolbox to ensure this species does not go extinct,” Henry said. “Working hand-in-hand with land managers in Santa Barbara County, we look forward to continuing to identify and implement conservation actions that provide California tiger salamanders an opportunity to thrive in their native habitat.”

During the dry season, California tiger salamanders can be found in underground burrows dug by squirrels, gophers or other small mammals, surfacing only in the fall and winter to make the trek – sometimes more than a mile – to breeding ponds where they stay from a few days to up to a month to breed. For this reason, they require two distinct habitats, aquatic and terrestrial, which is why the availability of both wetland and upland habitats is so crucial.

In addition to habitat loss and fragmentation, other threats to the species include hybridization with non-native tiger salamanders, predation and competition by non-native species, vehicle-strike mortality, and lack of regulatory compliance. Potential threats in the future could also include contaminants, disease and a changing climate.

Public Workshop

For more information about the draft Recovery Plan, the Service invites the public, scientific community, conservation partners and stakeholders to a public workshop on Friday, May 22, 2015 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Joseph Centeno Betteravia Government Administration Building, Board Hearing Room at 511 East Lakeside Parkway in Santa Maria, California. Written comments may be submitted at the workshop and/or by the following methods:

Submit written comments and materials to Field Supervisor, at Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office 2493 Portola Rd. Suite B, Ventura, California 93003.
Hand-deliver written comments to our Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, at the above address, or fax them to (805) 644-3958 or
Send comments by e-mail to Please include “California Tiger Salamander Santa Barbara County DPS Recovery Plan” in the subject line.

Service Recovery Plans are not regulatory documents, and do not require any agency or landowner to implement specific recovery actions. However, recovery of California tiger salamanders in Santa Barbara County will require a coordinated effort among many stakeholders. The Service looks forward to ongoing cooperation across federal, state and local entities to identify conservation actions that benefit the species now and in the future.

Additional information about the California tiger salamander is available online.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.

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Ashley Spratt, 805-644-1766 ext. 369

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