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New Mexico Endemic Salamander Finally Receives Endangered Status

Fire, Off-Roading and Climate Change listed as Threats

The Jemez Mountains salamander has gained the protection WildEarth Guardians has long sought with today’s announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listing the animal as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act. WildEarth Guardians petitioned to list the salamander under the ESA in 2008.

“The Endangered Species Act listing provides is long overdue for this endangered salamander and is welcome relief,” said Bryan Bird a forest ecologist with WildEarth Guardians. “Roads and unmanaged motorized recreation is an immediate threat to this one-of-a-kind salamander and urgent action needs to be taken to close key areas to off-roading.”

The Service identified primary threats as disrupted fire regimes; forest composition and structure conversions; post-fire rehabilitation; forest and fire management; roads, trails, and habitat fragmentation; and recreation. According to the Final Rule published September 10, “existing and newly constructed roads or trails fragment habitat, increasing the chances of extirpation of isolated populations, especially when movement between suitable habitats is not possible.”

Although it did not identify critical habitat, the Service stated it would do so soon. Most of the Jemez Mountains salamander’s habitat is on federally managed lands. The Service proposed to designate 90,789 acres in two large areas as critical habitat. The final Rule determined that the extensive roads that currently exist in the Jemez Mountains have significantly impacted the salamander and its habitat and that “the effects from historical logging and associated roads . . . will continue to be a threat to the salamander.”

“At a time when the off-road vehicle industry is suing the Santa Fe National Forest to stop implementation of reasonable limitations, the listing of the salamander is another warning sign that change is overdue.” said Bird. “The Jemez Mountains are the only place in the world this animal exists and we cannot sacrifice the area for motorized recreation. That's why Guardians has intervened to defend the Santa Fe's motorized travel management decision." See the Jemez Mountains salamander species page for more information.


 

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