Salamanders under fire: Burning forests among threats as feds contemplate endangered status

Jemez mountains salamander
Thanks to Terry Seyden for this link.

Well, we’ve been discussing a woodpecker who likes fires and specifically post-fire habitat.

In this story we find an animal that apparently doesn’t like them so much and appears to be also rare. I wonder how a pattern of burning for woodpecker habitat in the Sierra would affect their local salamanders?

Here’s the link, and below is an excerpt.

One of the chief threats facing the lung-less amphibian is the combination of an overgrown forest and the likelihood of severe wildfire, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
While the salamander has evolved over centuries with low-intensity fire, the waves of fast-moving, intense fires that have charred tens of millions of acres in the West over the last decade is a problem.
Biologists say that between 1995 and 2010, severe fires have burned more than one-third of known salamander habitat on national forest lands.

In 2011, the Las Conchas Fire burned nearly 18,000 acres of salamander habitat.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service points to fire restoration, logging, grazing, roads, trails and recreation as other threats to the salamander.

Aside from the proposed listing, the agency is suggesting setting aside more than 140 square miles in three New Mexico counties as critical habitat for the salamander.
The agency will make a final decision on the salamander after a 60-day comment period.
Environmentalists have been pushing for salamander protections for more than two decades.

Hmm. I hope if they figure it’s hard to stop fires, they won’t shut instead stop “fire restoration,” logging, grazing, roads, trails and recreation instead…

5 thoughts on “Salamanders under fire: Burning forests among threats as feds contemplate endangered status”

  1. “Hmm. I hope if they figure it’s hard to stop fires, they won’t shut down “fire restoration,” logging, grazing, roads, trails and recreation instead…”

    I’m struck by,

    a) your use of the loaded term, “shut down” (wording that attempts to influence by using an appeal to emotion);

    b) and your appeal to emotion gets attributed to sustaining activities which most contribute to (unsustainable) habitat degradation in the first place.

    Setting aside critical habitat is perfectly reasonable if sustainability is part of the Forest Service credo of “Caring for the land”.

    The rest of that credo, “serving people”, is most problematic when it gets reflected by serial failures of a captured agency. These failures have been occurring over several decades. It is the failure to adequately regulate “fire restoration, logging, grazing, roads, trails and recreation.”

    However, the use of loaded terms is emblematic of an agency culture which is well practiced at creating the problem, and then deliberately interfering with the necessary solution to the problem. This is a Forest Service serving certain people first, and certainly not in the best interests of present and future generations of Americans, their forests and the indigenous species in those forests.

    So ultimately, the “Forest Service” is not caring for the forest at all, but “managing” for the demise of a long list of threatened indigenous species. It is no surprise at all that the Forest Service is targeting the species viability requirement of the National Forest Management Act in the New Planning Rule.

    While it is true that species come, and species go — the rate at which this normally occurs is over several thousands of millennia. The current mass extinction event is unprecedented in many millions of years. Those prior causes of mass extinction were not anthropogenic, but cataclysmic.

    It is fair to say that your “hope” they won’t “shut down” the causes of extinction — is little more than an agency managing for a Sophie’s Choice.

    Do you regard yours as a reasonable, thoughtful, or ethical “hope”?

    • Yes, it is quite reasonable, thoughtful and ethical. My point being if cause A is responsible for 75 percent of the problem, and you deal with causes B, C, and D because they are easier to get at (because the people who support them are apparently less politically powerful ) you do not solve the problem.

      I did use the term “shut down”, I will replace it with “stop”.

      • We obviously have differing views of ethics and causation,(whatever you mean by “cause A”) but then again, we always have differed on ethics and causation. Again, “Uncomfortable Knowledge…”

  2. I used to work inthe Jemez Mountains as a NEPA coordinator. Even before the salamander had ESA status, it was clear that forest restoration treatments weren’t consistent with management guidelines for the slamander. Desite several meetings between the salamander conservation group (multi-agency group to protect the salamander and ultimately prevent listing under the ESA) and the FS, there never was agreement on how to achieve restoration (including reducing the risk of high-intensity wildfire) while adequately minimizing impacts to the salamander. I doubt its new status will help that any.

  3. MD- maybe there wasn’t agreement because it’s not possible to do both? Or maybe they all need to raise the question to a higher level and get more creative minds engaged (note, I am not speaking of the US Congress ;)).


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