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After many years of work, a team of seven partners will meet Sept. 30 to sign two conservation agreements to protect Nevada’s populations of the Columbia spotted frog. The goal of the planning efforts is twofold: to reduce threats to the frog species and its habitat to the extent necessary to prevent populations from becoming extinct, and to maintain, enhance and restore sufficient populations to ensure the species' continued existence throughout their historic range.

The partners in the agreements believe that implementing the measures described in the plan will benefit the Columbia spotted frog and could reduce the likelihood of its listing under the Endangered Species Act.

"We are encouraged that the many years of work have paid off with two conservation agreements," said Rich Haskins, Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) fisheries chief. "This really is a substantial achievement, considering the many different participants."

The conservation agreements will cover two subpopulations of Columbia spotted frogs that are found in central Nevada (Nye County) and northeast Nevada (Elko County), at elevations between 5,600-8,700 feet elevation and near slow-moving or ponded, clear water.

Many of the habitats where the frogs are found are seasonally dry and sensitive to disturbance, both natural and human-caused.

Over the 10-year term of the agreement, partners agreed to conduct inventories to establish baseline range of the species, assess populations and threats, maintain
legal protections for the frog, implement and financially support the conservation goals identified in the conservation agreement, conduct research to support conservation and management of the species, increase public awareness and appreciation for the Columbia spotted frog, and continue to support the Conservation Agreement partnership.

NDOW will be the lead agency on the effort. The team leader on the project in the northeastern part of the state is Kent McAdoo, of the UNR Cooperative Extension Service in Elko. In central Nevada, the leader is Dr. Jim Marble, the Director of Natural Resources for Nye County.

The signatory parties to the agreement include: the Bureau of Land Management, NDOW, Nevada Natural Heritage Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Nye County, and the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Service. Additional participant/cooperators on the two agreements included: the Department of Integrative Biology at Brigham Young University, Elko County Commissioners, the Biological Resources Research Center at the University of Nevada Reno, the Yomba Shoshone Tribe, and the U.S. Geological Survey, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center.

Nye County Commissioner Roberta Carver called the spotted frog conservation agreement an example of cooperation between the local, state, and federal levels of government. "The conservation agreement is much more effective than listing the species under the Endangered Species Act," Carver said. "It will be much more flexible, most assuredly will enjoy greater local support and it will have far fewer undesirable effects on local residents than a listing would."

"Conservation agreements are good for species and landowners" said Steve Thompson, Operations Manager for the California Nevada Office of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. "Taking action now to protect the species can preclude the need to list it, reduce regulatory burdens, and save money."

Currently, the Columbia spotted frog is listed as a candidate species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Candidate species are plants and animals for which the USFWS has sufficient information to propose them as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, but for which development of a listing regulation is precluded by other higher priority listing activities.

An event to celebrate the signing of the two conservation agreements will be held at 10 a.m., Sept. 30, at the Nevada Department of Wildlife, 1100 Valley Road, in Reno. Interested members of the public are welcome to attend.



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