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taherman 19th April 2018 02:32

URGENT! NC Highway expansion threatens world's most diverse salamander site
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A state highway expansion in North Carolina threatens the most diverse salamander habitat on Earth.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is now accepting comments on their project to widen NC Highway 191 over the uniquely diverse site, where 17 species of salamanders have been documented living in one single forested wetland habitat.

The United States is home to more species and families of salamander than any other country in the world....more than any rainforest, more than any tropical location, more than anywhere. These salamander communities are at their richest in the southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. Since the 1970s herpetologists Alvin Braswell (NC State Museum of Natural Science) and later Dr. James Petranka (UNC-Asheville) focused their studies on these uniquely American amphibians and how they interacted with their forest ecosystems. In the course of their research, they identified one site near Asheville that stands out, unparralleled anywhere, which holds the record for the most salamander species living together in a single location.

Furthermore, recent genetic research on one species there, the Four-toed Salamander, has revealed that this habitat contains the best remaining population of an ancient lineage that may represent a new species. In total, at least 40 species of amphibians and reptiles are known to inhabit this exceptional area of forest.

Please take a moment to encourage the NC Department of Transportation to choose alternatives which would protect this globally unique and irreplaceable gem of the natural heritage of the United States.

Comments should be sent to:

Ahmad Al-Sharawneh (Project Manager) by email at with a CC to Robin Pugh (RK&K) at

or by US mail at 1548 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1548

Please keep your comments concise and respectful.

Below you will find a short example which you can use to guide your comments to the North Carolina Department of Transportation:


Mr. Al-Sharawneh,

I am writing to comment on the expansion of NC Highway 191 in Buncombe County. This area contains a globally unique ecosystem containing the highest diversity of salamanders living together anywhere on Earth, including the best known habitat for a very rare lineage of the Four-toed salamander.

Salamanders are one of the most unique components of the biodiversity of the United States, and more species exist here than anywhere else in the world. The Blue Ridge Mountains are the center of this diversity, and researchers in North Carolina have found this location along Hwy 191 to be the absolute best example of this incredible natural heritage. Salamanders are also some of our most sensitive wildlife. Slight changes in the habitat such as shading of vegetation, water runoff from construction areas, or shifting hydrology could result in the loss of one or more salamander species from the site.

I strongly encourage you to find alternative construction plans that do not damage or alter the ecosystem at this location. No mitigation or alternative habitat improvement elsewhere can replace the exceptional combination of factors that created this unparalled natural gem.

Thank you for your time and for considering the permanent implications that this project could have on North Carolina's globally unique wildlife.



Thank you for taking the time to support protection for our unparalleled amphibian biodiversity.

Tim Herman
Indoor Ecosystems, LLC

Aesyir 19th April 2018 06:22

Re: URGENT! NC Highway expansion threatens world's most diverse salamander site
Thank you for making this known. :happy:

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