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DC Press:Jumping Frog Loses Habitat Protection


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Posted by desiree on November 09, 2002 at 11:04:09:

In Reply to: CA Press:Judge lifts controls on red-legged frog lands posted by desiree on November 09, 2002 at 10:42:52:

Earthjustice: Jumping Frog Loses Habitat Protection
U.S. Newswire
8 Nov 20:36
Earthjustice: Twains Jumping Frog Loses Habitat Protection: D.C.
Court Rules in Favor of CA Homebuilders, Development Interests
To: National Desk, Environment Reporter
Contact: Mike Sherwood of Earthjustice, 510-550-6725,
Robert Stack, Ph.D. of JFRI, 209-743-2564 (cell) or 209-795-3718,
Peter Galvin of CBD, 510-841-0812,
Craig Thomas of CSNC, 530-622-8718,
Deanna Spooner of PRC, 510-548-3887

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In a decision filed
November 6, 2002, environmental groups seeking to retain more than
4 million acres of critical habitat designated by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service for California's threatened red-legged frog were
dealt a significant set-back by federal court in Washington D.C.
Judge Richard Leon's ruling approves a sweetheart deal entered into
between the Home Builders and the Service from which
conservationists were excluded to redo its study of the
designation's economic impacts, and nullifies all but 200,000 acres
of critical habitat protection for the frog until that study is
completed.

"It's a sad day for California's natural heritage," said Mike
Sherwood, Earthjustice attorney who argued the case on behalf of
several environmental organizations. "The builders got exactly what
they wanted -- carte blanche to continue to destroy the habitat of
a species already reduced to living on a small fraction of its
historic range."

Critical habitat for this amphibian species, widely believed to
be Mark Twain's 'Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,' was
established in March 2001 after a series of lengthy public hearings
and thorough scientific review. Environmental groups had litigated
for years to gain this protection for California's vanishing,
literary amphibian under the Endangered Species Act.

Only three months later, the Home Builders Association of
Northern California and other development interests filed suit in
Washington, D.C. to overturn the designation, which protected
watersheds in 28 counties and many of the remaining freshwater
streams and wetlands in the San Francisco Bay Area and Coast
Ranges. The frog's critical habitat also included some of the last
remaining wetlands in California, 90 percent of which have already
been destroyed.

"As far as our frogs are concerned, the Home Builders may be
better described as the home wreckers," said Dr. Robert Stack, of
the Jumping Frog Research Institute. "Shouldn't we be seeking to
balance the need for human homes with the need to provide the same
for our beloved frog?"

Earthjustice intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of several
conservation groups including: the Jumping Frog Research Institute,
the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation, the Pacific Rivers
Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club.

"We do not believe this decision reflects the intent of Congress
when it passed the Endangered Species Act," said Sherwood, who
represented the coalition at the October 2002 hearing before Judge
Leon. "The court has decided to put the economic interests of
California's developers ahead of protection for a threatened
species, which runs counter to the Act. Without critical habitat
protection, the frog is at the mercy of developers. One day, the
only place left to see this famous frog may be the zoo."

The fight to conserve the frog's habitat is not over.
Conservationists will press the Service to re-establish adequate
critical habitat upon completing the new economic analysis.

A copy of the decision is available online here:
http://www.earthjustice.org/news/documents/rlfchdecision.pdf.

http://www.usnewswire.com
-0-
/U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

11/08 17:32

Copyright 2002, U.S. Newswire




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