Spotted Frog Listing Will Impact Water Management and Irrigation, Agricultural Practices, Development and Livestock Grazing
On August 29, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) issued its Final Rule listing the Oregon Spotted Frog as a “Threatened Species” under the Endangered Species Act. The listing is intended to protect the species throughout its range, which extends from extreme southwestern British Columbia south through the Puget Trough and in the Cascade Range from south-central Washington to the Klamath Basin in southern Oregon. The listing will affect property development, irrigation activity, water management and diversions, agricultural practices and livestock grazing. A draft rule designating areas of critical habitat in Oregon and Washington was issued by the USFWS in August, 2013 with a final rule expected by the end of 2014.
The Spotted Frog and Its Range
The Oregon spotted frog is named for the characteristic black spots that cover its head, back and legs. The frog is a highly aquatic species, inhabiting areas of wetlands and rarely emerging onto land. The historic range of the Oregon Spotted Frog has been reduced by up to 90 percent, leaving reduced and genetically isolated populations that are particularly vulnerable to human activity, disease, predation and climate change. The USFWS listing alleges that frog habitat is impacted or destroyed by human activities that result in the loss of wetlands, hydrologic changes, reduced water quality and the alteration of native vegetation. The USFWS has determined that imminent threats place the frog at risk of becoming in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
Oregon spotted frogs occur in lower elevations in British Columbia and the State of Washington. In Washington, populations occur in Whatcom, Skagit, Thurston , Skamania and Klickitat counties. In Oregon, spotted frogs have a very limited distribution west of the Cascade range and are considered to have been extirpated in the Willamette Valley. In western Oregon, the spotted frog is restricted to a few lakes in the upper watersheds of the McKenzie and Middle Fork of the Willamette River. Generally, spotted frogs in the State of Oregon are found in higher elevation areas of Jackson, Lane, Deschutes, Crook, Wasco and Klamath counties. The Oregon spotted frog is found in or near a perennial body of water, such as a spring, pond, lake, sluggish stream, irrigation canal or roadside stream. The frog breeds in shallow pools that are near flowing water, or which are connected to larger bodies of water during seasonally high water or at flood stage. Vegetation must be low or sparse in areas where eggs are laid, with full sun exposure as a significant factor in the selection of egg laying habitat. Frogs are not typically found under a full forest canopy.