The first step in finding the best way to protect the Santa Barbara County population of the federally endangered California tiger salamander went forward on Friday, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service releasing its draft plan toward that effort. Recommendations in the plan address habitat loss and fragmentation of the amphibians.
Through June 23, community members are encouraged to comment on the draft. A public workshop on the plan is scheduled for May 22 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the county government building in Santa Maria, at 511 East Lakeside Parkway. Comments can be turned in at the meeting or faxed to 805-644-3958. Emailed input should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line reading “California Tiger Salamander Santa Barbara County DPS Recovery Plan.”
The population here was placed on the Endangered Species List in 2000, having suffered habitat loss due to growth in agriculture and development in the area, as well as dangers from predators, and car accidents; most of the amphibians here live on private land. Early last year, the county’s first conservation bank for the species opened in North County, providing not only a preservation area but also a mitigation opportunity for developers. The salamanders require two separate habitats, as they spend the dry months underground and the fall and winter months traveling to breeding months.
In 2012, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Department of the Interior settled a lawsuit brought about the environmental organization that called out feds for not having a recovery plan in place for the species. The Santa Barbara County amphibians are genetically different from other California tiger salamanders and only have 60 breeding ponds left here, according to the organization. Said Jenny Loda, a Center scientist, of the plan, which has to be in place by the end of 2016: “I’m so glad the Service has finally developed this plan to recover this population of California tiger salamanders,” she said. “Time’s running out for these rare amphibians, so we urgently need a roadmap to guide the actions needed to ensure the species will survive.”