Nossaman LLP —
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced its finding that three salamander species do not warrant listing as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service’s announcement follows a court-approved settlement agreement in which the Service agreed to make a 12-month finding for the Shasta salamander (Hydromantes shastae), Samwel salamander (H. samweli), and Wintu salamander (H. wintu). The finding comes despite concerns from some environmental groups that a proposed project to raise the height of the Shasta Dam and enlarge the reservoir would impact the three species due to inundation and loss of habitat.
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petitioned the Service to list 53 species of reptiles and amphibians, including the Shasta salamander, on July 11, 2012. On September 18, 2015, the Service published its 90-day finding that the petition presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the Shasta salamander as endangered or threatened may be warranted based on impacts to the species’ habitat and other natural or humanmade factors. CBD subsequently provided the Service with information supporting a taxonomic split of the Shasta salamander into three distinct species – Shasta, Samel, and Wintu. CBD requested the Service consider that information as part of the ongoing status review.