As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service moves forward with plans to designate what they call critical habitat for frogs and toads in the Eastern Sierra high country, down below citizens fear that the bureaucratic plan will halt trout plants in some lakes and hurt recreation. The Inyo Board of Supervisors scheduled a special meeting for Monday at 6pm at the Home Economics Building at the fairgrounds.
Fish and Wildlife spokesmen have said that their critical habitat designation for the yellow-legged frog and Yosemite toad will not in itself stop trout planting or access to the back country. Robert Moler, Public Information Officer for Fish and Wildlife, said that the designation would cause the Forest Service to consider its projects on federal land. He said, “Each activity is thoroughly evaluated on a case-by-case basis at the time the federal agency involved consults with the Fish and Wildlife Service.”
Fish and Wildlife wants to list the frogs and toads as endangered. Biologists say that these amphibians play a critical role in the web of life and natural food chain. They are food for snakes, birds, coyotes and bears.
In a letter to Fish and Wildlife, the Inyo Supervisors had called the critical habitat designations “premature” and a problem for the local economy. The Board will meet Monday with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the US Forest Service. A County press release says that over 100,000 acres in Inyo County would be designated as critical habitat.
The Inyo Board said that Monday’s meeting will allow the public to better understand impacts and how the Forest Service might respond to the new designation. The Inyo Board provided an internet link for comments and information: Proposed Endangered Species Listing Rule (FWS-R8-ES-2013-0110 or Proposed Critical Habitat Rule (FWS-R8-ES-2013-0074; or at the County Planning link: http:inyoplanning.org/projects/USFW_YellowLeggedFrog.htm.