June 16, 2004
PETITION FILED TO PROTECT SISKIYOU MOUNTAINS SALAMANDER AS ENDANGERED SPECIES
106 OLD-GROWTH DEPENDENT SPECIES ENDANGERED BECAUSE OF BUSH ADMINISTRATION ELIMINATION OF WILDLIFE SAFETY NET
A coalition of groups led by the Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition today with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting protection of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The salamander was formerly protected under a provision of the Northwest Forest Plan called the “Survey and Manage” Program, which required the Forest Service and BLM to conduct surveys for the salamander and protect its habitat. The Bush Administration eliminated the Survey and Manage Program March 23, 2004. The Groups also issued a report documenting that 105 other Survey and Manage Species will require protection under the Act and announcing their intent to petition these species unless the wildlife survey requirements are reinstated.
“Without the wildlife survey program, over 100 species are at risk of extinction,” states Noah Greenwald, conservation biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “If the Bush Administration is going to sweep these species under the rug and forget about them, we owe it to future generations to protect them and the old-growth habitats they depend on under the Endangered Species Act.”
The Siskiyou Mountains salamander occurs in southwestern Oregon and northwestern California on rocky slopes under mature and old-growth forest. Logging of old-growth forest is the principal threat to this salamander’s survival. The salamander occurs mostly outside the protected reserves created by the Northwest Forest Plan and thus the Survey and Manage Program provided critical protection in areas where logging is planned.
“Because of the Bush Administration’s removal of the Survey and Manage Program, the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and the old-growth forests it depends on need protection under the Endangered Species Act,” states Joseph Vaile, Campaign Coordinator for Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center. “Our petition will ensure the salamander has a safety net that prevents extinction.”
The 106 species, including the Siskiyou Mountains salamander, were determined to need protection based on well-established criteria for determining endangered species status and based on the agencies own admissions. The species include an assortment of old-growth associated species, such as the Oregon red tree vole, three other species of salamander, and unique snails, mushrooms, lichens and mosses. Most are found at fewer than 100 sites and many are known from less than a dozen locations. “Over the last Century, old-growth forests have been severely depleted, placing these 106 species at risk of extinction,” states Greenwald.
The wildlife protected by the Survey and Manage Program play important roles in maintaining the health and stability of Northwest Forests. Loss of species through extinction can reduce the forests ability to adapt to change, such as global warming, and to provide valuable ecological services, such as clean water and air, and unique chemical compounds for medicine and other products. “The myriad of species found in remaining old-growth forests represent a reservoir of diversity that can help restore and maintain Northwest ecosystems that have been ravaged by a century of rampant logging,” states Doug Heiken, western Oregon field representative for Oregon Natural Resources Council. “The Bush Administration is making a grave error by removing checks and balances which ensure forests and wildlife are protected.”
The petitioning groups include: Center for Biological Diversity, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, American Lands Alliance, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Environmental Protection Information Center, and Siskiyou Regional Education Project.
The report on the Survey and Manage species and the Siskiyou Mountains salamander petition can be found at: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/programs/forests/nwfp/index.html
BACKGROUND ON THE SURVEY AND MANAGE PROGRAM
In 1994, President Clinton enacted the Northwest Forest Plan, which created a network of reserves to protect old-growth forests, watersheds, and species, such as the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet. Although a substantial step forward, the plan failed to protect roughly 20% of remaining old-growth forests and set an estimated timber target of one billion board feet per year. Scientists charged by the Clinton administration with evaluating the effects of the plan on over 1,000 species dependent on old-growth forests predicted such logging was likely to jeopardize many of these species.
The Survey and Manage Program originally protected 304 species and 4 arthropod guilds with an unknown number of species. The Forest Service admits many of these species will be at grave risk of extirpation because of removal of the Survey and Manage Program. We have identified 106 species that require protection under the Endangered Species Act to survive.