Las Vegas Review-Journal coverage
LAS VEGAS -- Today Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a scientific petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Amargosa toad under the federal Endangered Species Act due to threats from growing development, water extractions, and increased off-road vehicle use throughout its limited range in the Oasis Valley.
"ESA protection for the Amargosa toad is long overdue and will lead to better stewardship for the common good," said Daniel Patterson, an ecologist and southwest director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility who formerly worked with BLM in the Mojave Desert. "Irresponsible off-roading, riparian area destruction, and unethical BLM proposals to privatize critical toad habitat for development on the Amargosa River near Beatty, Nevada are top threats to the toad and the fragile web of life it represents."
The Amargosa toad is presently restricted to a 10-mile (16-kilometer) stretch of the Amargosa River and interconnected spring systems in the Oasis Valley in Nevada and adjacent desert uplands. The principle threat to the species and the cause of its present reduced state is habitat destruction, degradation, and fragmentation due to urban, residential, and recreational development including unrestricted off-road vehicle use.
"The Amargosa toad is facing increasing habitat loss in the Oasis Valley along the Amargosa River and in nearby springs," said Rob Mrowka, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "The voluntary conservation efforts over the past eight years, while commendable, have been woefully insufficient and have failed to protect the species and its habitat, so the legal protections of the Endangered Species Act are sorely needed. As all Nevadans are aware, water resources are scarce, and many of our native rivers, streams, and springs are being threatened by increased water use and lack of meaningful protective measures to prevent damaging off-road vehicle use in these fragile riparian environments. Protecting these resources is critical for the survival of native wildlife and ecosystems for future generations."
Mr. Mrowka recently joined the Center for Biological Diversity and will be opening an office in Las Vegas focused on preserving imperiled species in Nevada. He spent five years as the environmental planning division manager for Clark County and prior to that had a 28-year career in the Forest Service as a forest ecologist, including time spent in the Intermountain Regional and National Headquarters offices, and over five years as the Forest Supervisor for the Fishlake National Forest in Utah.
- from PEER/CBD