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SC Press: Feds look to protect threatened salamanders

This is a Press Information page entitled SC Press: Feds look to protect threatened salamanders within the Press / News Items section of Caudata.org --- TIMES & DEMOCRAT (Orangeburg, S Carolina) 14 August 08 Feds look to protect threatened salamanders (Katrina A. Goggins) Columbia, S.C. (AP): New species of salamanders ...

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Old 15th August 2008   #1 (permalink)
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Default SC Press: Feds look to protect threatened salamanders

TIMES & DEMOCRAT (Orangeburg, S Carolina) 14 August 08 Feds look to protect threatened salamanders (Katrina A. Goggins)
Columbia, S.C. (AP): New species of salamanders were named Wednesday and federal officials have now turned their attention to protecting land in the Southeast where the critter lives.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said flatwoods salamanders should now be considered two species: the frosted flatwoods salamander and the reticulated flatwoods salamander.
ďWhen they did the genetic work they determined that they were werenít the same, that they were in fact two different species,Ē agency biologist Linda LaClaire said.
The service wants reticulated flatwoods salamanders classified as endangered, which means theyíre close to extinction. Theyíve recommended that the frosted species retain the current flatwoods designation of threatened, which means the situation is not as critical.
Before the split, the flatwoods salamanders were categorized as threatened under the 1999 Endangered Species Act.
A 2005 lawsuit claimed the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to designate critical habitat for the flatwoods salamander. As part of a court-approved settlement, the agency agreed to re-evaluate the need for critical habitat for the species and send proposals on any necessary land designations to the Federal Register for publication.
The service announced Wednesday that it proposes that about 23,000 acres in Florida and South Carolina be considered critical habitat for the frosted species and about 7,500 acres in Florida and Georgia get that designation for the reticulated salamander.
But the designation places few limitations on whatís done on those lands.
ďOnly if you have some sort of federal action does it come into play,Ē LaClaire said. ďAs far as doing work like timbering or whatever normal activities people are doing on their lands, itís not likely to have much of an impact unless thereís some sort of federal connection.Ē
The agency mostly wants to protect ponds, where the salamander breeds. The species are unlikely to be found in yards or anywhere where thereís development, LaClaire said.
The designation would only affect privately owned land if federal government development is planned.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will collect public comment through October before making a final decision on the classifications.
http://www.timesanddemocrat.com/arti...3402466632.txt



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Old 19th August 2008   #2 (permalink)
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Default SC Press: Salamander at risk

ISLAND PACKET (Bluffton, S Carolina) 16 August 08 Salamander at risk (Liz Mitchell)
They're tiny, slimy and live most of their lives underground.
Flatwoods salamanders crawled their way onto the federal threatened species list in 1999, but one of the two species now is at risk for extinction due to habitat loss, said Tom MacKenzie, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
To protect the amphibians, the service has proposed adding the reticulated flatwoods salamander to the endangered species list.
The frosted flatwoods salamander would remain on the threatened list.
Recent studies show that reticulated flatwoods are more at risk for losing habitat, MacKenzie said. The service also has proposed establishing more than 30,000 acres of critical habitat areas for both species in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, including parts of Berkeley, Charleston and Jasper counties.
A critical habitat designation would require anyone seeking a federal permit to alter the salamanders' natural habitat to consult with the service first.
The potential economic impact of consulting with those who want to modify critical habitat areas could cost between $2.5 million and $6.4 million over a 20-year period, according to a draft economic analysis, MacKenzie said.
The proposal stems from a 2005 lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Wild South, and Florida Biodiversity Project against the Secretary of Interior for failing to designate critical habitat for the salamanders.
In a court-approved settlement, the service agreed to re-evaluate the need for critical habitat and, if required, propose establishing them.
MacKenzie said flatwood salamander populations are threatened by development and future evacuation roads ruining their habitats.
Steve Bennett, a herpetologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, said development in the coastal zone has jeopardized the species, as has increased traffic.
"One of the sites used to be a country road and is now a back way to Hilton Head," he said. "The traffic on that road has increased exponentially, and so over time a lot have been killed on the road."
The salamanders are part of a mole salamander family and live most of their lives in underground crawfish boroughs and root channels.
They require grassy, freshwater wetlands isolated from other waterbodies as well as wooded upland areas. They migrate between both habitats for breeding purposes, Bennett said.
"People who have been working with the species for the past few years, myself included, are very, very concerned they will even continue to exist," Bennett said. "They haven't been seen in the state for a long time. The only real way you can find these guys is during November or early December as they migrate from flatwood habitats into isolated ponds for breeding."
http://www.islandpacket.com/news/loc...ry/579760.html



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