Critical habitat rule before Inyo Supervisors

By Deb Murphy

The final rule on critical habitat designations for three listed frogs and toads was issued in late August by the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service. Inyo County’s Planning Department will go over the details at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

More than two million acres are included for protection of the Sierra Nevada and mountain yellow-legged frogs as well as the Yosemite toad. There is some overlap in the designations, bringing the total acreage down to approximately 1.8 million acres. The majority of that acreage is west of the Sierra Nevada crest. Portions of the habitat units lie in Mono and Inyo counties.

While the rule outlines the environmental needs of and threats to the amphibians, there is no specific habitat management plan or associated restrictions, yet. According to Planning Director Josh Hart, that comes next. Threats have been identified as “timber harvest and fuels reduction, inappropriate livestock grazing, spread of pathogens and intensive use of recreationists, including packstock camping and grazing.”

The Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog claims the lion’s share of the designated habitat: a portion of Wells Peak, a sliver of Emigrant Yosemite, roughly half of the 5,160 acre White Mountain, part of Cathedral, the headwaters of Rush Creek and a section of Mono Creek are within Mono County boundaries. The largest segment of habitat in Inyo is the Evolution/Le Conte unit near or including the headwaters of Pine, Horton, Bishop and Big Pine creeks. Most of the 4,289-acre Pothole Lakes unit at the intersection of Inyo, Tulare and Fresno counties.

Mountain yellow-legged frog habitat units are south of Tinnemaha Reservoir including Sequoia Kings bordering Inyo and Mulkey Meadows’ 7,846 acres split between Inyo and Tulare counties due east of Owens Lake.

Most of the Hoover Lakes’ Yosemite toad habitat is within Mono County borders as is a sliver of the Tuolumne Meadows/Cathedral designation. The eastern section of Silver Divide’s 48,809 acres are in Mono, the south edge borders Inyo. A small section of the Humphrey Basin/Seven Gables habitat is in Inyo.

According to the Inyo Supervisors’ staff report, “very little” of the final rule reflected the County’s concerns.

 

 

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