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Groups seek protection for unique Oregon salamander

The Oregonian 3/13/18

Four conservation groups are seeking federal protection for a unique species of salamander that lives in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southern Oregon and northern California.

The petition filed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Monday said increasing logging of old-growth forests is threatening the Siskiyou Mountains salamander, The Capital Press reported.

The petition by Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Environmental Protection Information Center said the a long-bodied, short-limbed terrestrial salamander deserves immediate protection under the Endangered Species Act.

"Increased logging of mature forests in the Applegate Valley could jeopardize the very survival of the salamander," said George Sexton with KS Wild.

Two timber industry groups issued a joint statement against the petition. The Oregon Forest Industries Council and American Forest Resource Council accused the groups of overwhelming federal agencies with petitions and litigation, The Press reported.

The Siskiyou Mountains salamander lives only in isolated locations along the Klamath River, on stabilized rock talus in old-growth forests covered with thick moss.

Conservationists first filed a petition seeking federal protection for the salamander in 2004. After a series of lawsuits, the federal agency said in 2007 that a listing may be warranted and it initiated a status review. In 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the salamander wasn't at risk of become extinct currently or within the foreseeable future.

The federal government later developed a conservation strategy to protect habitat for 110 salamander sub-populations on federal lands in the Applegate River watershed in southwest Oregon.

But environmental groups say that a revised plan by the Bureau of Land Management for 2.5 million acres of forestland in 2016 will substantially increase logging in the region and undermine protections for the salamander.

Josh Laughlin, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands based in Eugene, Oregon, said the BLM's decision shrinks buffers in half for logging along streams and does away with the policy requiring timber planners to look for salamanders before cutting in their habitat.

"It's clearly going to have a detrimental effect on the remaining population of Siskiyou salamanders," Laughlin said.



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