Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. has presented an analysis for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the economic implications of protecting the endangered arroyo toad. According to the report, called “Draft Economic Analysis of Revised Critical Habitat Designation for the Arroyo Toad,” the plan will cost around $800 million over the next 25 years, with the protected lands spanning over 110,000 total acres in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Santa Barbara counties.
In an interview, Lois Grumwald, public affairs officer for Ventura Fish and Wildlife Service, said there are two “units” in Santa Barbara where the arroyo toad (Bufo californicus) will be protected. The first, named the Sisquoc River Unit, is 3,775 acres and encompasses 33 square miles of the Sisquoc River and adjacent uplands, from Sycamore Campground downstream to just below the confluence with La Brea Creek. Upper stretches of the Sisquoc River are in the Los Padres National Forest, mostly within the San Raphael Wilderness. Below the Los Padres National Forest boundary, the toads are on rural, private lands. In all, 2,037 of the acres are private, while 1,700 are federal.
The second unit, called the Santa Ynez River Basin Unit, is 3,032 acres, located upstream of Gibraltar Reservoir. It includes about 27 miles of the upper San Ynez River, on Mono Creek and Indian Creek; and the upland areas that are adjacent to those creeks. Of the total acreage, 2,214 are federal, and 818 are private.
According to the San Diego Natural History Museum Web site, the two-inch to three-inch, stout arroyo toad is a Southern California native that has lost its habitat to development projects. It is unknown how many of the toads are left in the wild.