[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 168 (Thursday, August 29, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 53581-53623]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-20986]



[[Page 53581]]

Vol. 78

Thursday,

No. 168

August 29, 2013

Part IV





Department of the Interior





-----------------------------------------------------------------------





Fish and Wildlife Service





-----------------------------------------------------------------------





50 CFR Part 17





Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Status for 
Oregon Spotted Frog; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 78 , No. 168 / Thursday, August 29, 2013 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 53582]]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[FWS-R1-ES-2013-0013; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AZ04


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Status 
for Oregon Spotted Frog

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose to list the 
Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa), as a threatened species under the 
Endangered Species Act. If we finalize this rule as proposed, it would 
extend the Act's protections to this species. The effect of this 
regulation is to add this species to the list of Endangered and 
Threatened wildlife under the Act.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
October 28, 2013. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section, below) must be received by 
11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests 
for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT by October 15, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Written Comments: You may submit comments by one of the 
following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R1-ES-2013-0013, 
which is the docket number for this rulemaking. You may submit a 
comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R1-ES-2013-0013; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see the Public Comments section below for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Berg, Manager, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond 
Drive SE., Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503, by telephone 360-753-9440 or by 
facsimile 360-753-9445. Persons who use a telecommunications device for 
the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 
800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Act, if a species is 
determined to be an endangered or threatened species throughout all or 
a significant portion of its range, we are required to promptly publish 
a proposal in the Federal Register and make a determination on our 
proposal within 1 year. Listing a species as an endangered or 
threatened species can be completed only by issuing a rulemaking. The 
Oregon spotted frog is a candidate for listing and, by virtue of a 
settlement agreement with Wild Earth Guardians, we must make a final 
listing determination under the Act by the end of fiscal year 2014.
     This rule will propose to list the Oregon spotted frog as 
threatened.
    The basis for our action. Under the Act, we can determine that a 
species is an endangered or threatened species based on any of five 
factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) Overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) 
Disease or predation; (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms; or (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its 
continued existence.
    We have determined that the Oregon spotted frog is impacted by one 
or more of the following factors to the extent that the species meets 
the definition of a threatened species under the Act:
     Habitat necessary to support all life stages is continuing 
to be impacted and/or destroyed by human activities that result in the 
loss of wetlands to land conversions; hydrologic changes resulting from 
operation of existing water diversions/manipulation structures, new and 
existing residential and road developments, drought, and removal of 
beavers; changes in water temperature and vegetation structure 
resulting from reed canarygrass invasions, plant succession, and 
restoration plantings; and increased sedimentation, increased water 
temperatures, reduced water quality, and vegetation changes resulting 
from the timing and intensity of livestock grazing (or in some 
instances, removal of livestock grazing at locations where it maintains 
early seral stage habitat essential for breeding);
     Predation by nonnative species, including nonnative trout 
and bullfrogs;
     Inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms that result in 
significant negative impacts such as habitat loss and modification; and
     Other natural or manmade factors including small and 
isolated breeding locations, low connectivity, low genetic diversity 
within occupied sub-basins, and genetic differentiation between sub-
basins.
    We will seek peer review. We are seeking comments from 
knowledgeable individuals with scientific expertise to review our 
analysis of the best available science and application of that science 
and to provide any additional scientific information to improve this 
proposed rule. Because we will consider all comments and information 
received during the comment period, our final determination may differ 
from this proposal.

Information Requested

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule 
will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and 
be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request 
comments or information from the public, other concerned governmental 
agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, 
or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We 
particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) The species' biology, range, and population trends, including:
    (a) Habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering;
    (b) Genetics and taxonomy;
    (c) Historical and current range including distribution patterns;
    (d) Historical and current population levels, and current and 
projected trends; and
    (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, its 
habitat or both.
    (2) The factors that are the basis for making a listing 
determination for a species under section 4(a) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.), which are:
    (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (c) Disease or predation;
    (d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    (3) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threats (or lack thereof) to this species and existing regulations 
that may be addressing those threats.

[[Page 53583]]

    (4) Additional information concerning the historical and current 
status, range, distribution, and population size of this species, 
including the locations of any additional populations of this species.
    (5) Any information on the biological or ecological requirements of 
the species, and ongoing conservation measures for the species and its 
habitat.
    (6) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
areas occupied by the species and possible impacts of these activities 
on this species.
    (7) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of 
climate change on the Oregon spotted frog.
    (8) Information on the type, application of, and methods of 
monitoring chemical contaminants, in addition to the projected and 
reasonably likely impacts of chemical contaminants on the Oregon 
spotted frog.
    (9) The development of a 4(d) special rule. We are also considering 
developing a special rule to exempt certain ongoing land and water 
management activities (e.g., grazing, mechanical vegetation management, 
water level manipulation) from take prohibitions of the Act if the 
Oregon spotted frog is listed, when those activities are conducted in a 
manner consistent with the conservation of the frog. Under section 4(d) 
of the Act, the Secretary may publish a special rule that modifies the 
standard protections for threatened species with special measures 
tailored to the conservation of the species that are determined to be 
necessary and advisable. Note that a 4(d) special rule will not remove 
or alter in any way the consultation requirements under section 7 of 
the Act.
    We see meaningful opportunities to conserve the Oregon spotted frog 
by allowing and promoting ongoing, and possibly new, activities on non-
Federal lands that contribute to the conservation of this now largely 
management-dependent species. The Service is continuing to evaluate the 
range and scope of activities that may be consistent with the 
conservation of the frog and the range of options for providing 
``take'' coverage (e.g., special rules, Habitat Conservation Plans, 
Safe Harbor Agreements, and other types of conservation agreements) for 
non-Federal landowners conducting these activities that further Oregon 
spotted frog conservation. We are specifically seeking information and 
comments regarding:
    (a) What measures are necessary and advisable for the conservation 
and management of the Oregon spotted frog that are appropriate for a 
proposed 4(d) special rule to encourage landowners to manage their 
lands for the benefit of the Oregon spotted frog.
    (b) Information regarding the types of activities that occur within 
Oregon spotted frog habitat and how they are or can be implemented 
(e.g., timing, extent) consistent with maintaining or advancing 
conservation of the frog.
    (c) Whether the Service should develop a 4(d) special rule to allow 
incidental take of Oregon spotted frog if the take results from 
implementation of a comprehensive State conservation program or 
regional or local conservation programs.
    (d) Information concerning whether it would be appropriate to 
include in the 4(d) special rule a provision for take of Oregon spotted 
frog in accordance with applicable State law for educational or 
scientific purposes, the enhancement of propagation or survival of the 
species, zoological exhibition, and other conservation purposes 
consistent with the Act.
    (e) Additional provisions the Service may wish to consider for a 
4(d) special rule in order to conserve, recover, and manage the Oregon 
spotted frog.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Please note that submissions merely stating support for or 
opposition to the action under consideration without providing 
supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in 
making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that 
determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened 
species must be made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and 
commercial data available.''
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request 
that you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES 
section.
    If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your 
entire submission--including any personal identifying information--will 
be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy 
that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the 
top of your document that we withhold this information from public 
review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We 
will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov. 
Please include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

Previous Federal Actions

    We received a petition dated May 1, 1989, from the Board of 
Directors of the Utah Nature Study Society on May 4, 1989. The petition 
requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or USFWS) 
add the spotted frog (Rana pretiosa) to the Federal List of Endangered 
and Threatened Species. The Service published a notice of a 90-day 
finding in the Federal Register (54 FR 42529) on October 17, 1990, 
stating that substantial information indicates that the petitioned 
action may be warranted. On May 7, 1993, the Service published a 12-
month finding in the Federal Register (58 FR 27260) indicating that the 
spotted frog (Rana pretiosa) warranted listing as threatened in some 
portions of its range, but was precluded by other higher priority 
listing actions. Subsequent genetic analyses separated the spotted frog 
into two separate species, Rana pretiosa (Oregon spotted frog) and Rana 
luteiventris (Columbia spotted frog). The Service recognized these 
taxonomic changes in the Federal Register (62 FR 49398) on September 
19, 1997, and assigned a listing priority number of ``2'' to the Oregon 
spotted frog and a listing priority number of ``3'' (Wasatch Front 
population), ``6'' (West Desert population), or ``9'' (Great Basin 
population) for the Columbia spotted frog. The candidate status for 
Oregon spotted frog was most recently reaffirmed in the October 26, 
2011, Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR) (76 FR 66370).
    In a settlement agreement with plaintiff WildEarth Guardians on May 
10, 2011, the Service submitted a workplan to the U.S. District Court 
for the District of Columbia in re Endangered Species Act Section 4 
Deadline Litigation, No. 10-377 (EGS), MDL Docket No. 2165 (D. DC May 
10, 2011), and obtained the court's approval to systematically, over a 
period of 6 years, review and address the needs of more than 250 
candidate species to determine if they should be added to the Federal 
Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. The Oregon 
spotted frog is one of the candidate species identified in the May 2011 
workplan.

[[Page 53584]]

Status Assessment for Oregon Spotted Frog

Background

Species Description

    The Oregon spotted frog is named for the characteristic black spots 
covering the head, back, sides, and legs. The dark spots have ragged 
edges and light centers, usually associated with a tubercle or raised 
area of skin. These spots become larger and darker, and the edges 
become more ragged with age (Hayes 1994, p. 14). Body color also varies 
with age. Juveniles are usually brown or, occasionally, olive green on 
the back and white, cream, or flesh-colored with reddish pigments on 
the underlegs and abdomen (McAllister and Leonard 1997, pp. 1-2). 
Adults range from brown to reddish brown but tend to become redder with 
age. Large, presumably older, individuals may be brick red over most of 
the dorsal (back) surfaces (McAllister and Leonard 1997, pp. 1-2). Red 
surface pigments on the adult abdomen also increase with age, and the 
underlegs of adults are a vivid orange red. Tan to orange folds along 
the sides of the back (dorsolateral folds) extend from behind the eye 
to midway along the back (McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 1). The eyes 
are upturned; there is a faint mask, and a light jaw stripe extends to 
the shoulder. Small bumps and tubercles usually cover the back and 
sides (Leonard et al. 1993, p. 130). The hind legs are short relative 
to body length, and the hind feet are fully webbed (Leonard et al. 
1993, p. 130).
    The Oregon spotted frog is a medium-sized frog that ranges from 
about 44 to 105 millimeters (mm) (1.7 to 4.1 inches (in)) in body 
length (McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 1; Rombough et al. 2006, p. 
210). Females are typically larger than males; females reach up to 105 
mm (4 in) (Rombough et al. 2006, p. 210) and males to 75 mm (3 in) 
(Leonard et al. 1993, p. 130).
    Morphological characters can be used to distinguish Oregon spotted 
frogs from other closely related spotted frogs. Mottling with dark 
pigments and fragmentation of the superficial red or orange-red wash on 
the abdomen can distinguish the Oregon spotted frog from some Columbia 
spotted frog populations (Hayes 1997, p. 3; Hayes et al. 1997, p. 1). 
Coloration of the underlegs and abdomen, size and shapes of spots, 
groin mottling, eye positions, relative length of hind legs to body 
size, degree of webbing, behaviors, and other characteristics can be 
used to distinguish among adults of closely related species. However, 
tadpoles are difficult to distinguish among species (Corkran and Thoms 
1996, p. 150; McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 6).
    The Oregon spotted frog has a weak call consisting of a rapid 
series of six to nine low clucking notes described as sounding like a 
distant woodpecker's tapping. Males will call at any time, both day and 
night (McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 12). Males have been documented 
to call from submerged sites that are physically distant (tens to 
hundreds of meters) from oviposition (egg-laying) sites (Bowerman 2010, 
p. 85). These submerged calls are inaudible at the surface and begin 
several days prior to breeding. Submerged calling is more frequent at 
night, although daytime calling has been recorded during overcast days 
(Bowerman 2010, pp. 85-86). It is unclear if mate selection takes place 
during this period of calling remotely from the breeding site, but it 
seems likely (Bowerman 2010, p. 86). This species rarely vocalizes 
except during the breeding season, which occurs in the spring (Leonard 
et al. 1993, p. 132); however, vocalizations have been heard during the 
fall (Leonard et al. 1997, pp. 73-74; Pearl 2010, pers. comm.).

Taxonomy

    The common name ``spotted frog'' and the scientific name Rana 
pretiosa (order Anura; family Ranidae) were first applied to a series 
of five specimens collected in 1841 by Baird and Girard (1853, p. 378) 
from the vicinity of Puget Sound. Two of these specimens were later 
determined to be northern red-legged frogs (Rana aurora) (Hayes 1994, 
p. 4; Green et al. 1997, p. 4). Dunlap (1955) demonstrated the 
morphological differences between northern red-legged frogs, Cascades 
frogs, and spotted frogs. Subsequently, the ``spotted frog'' was 
separated into two species, Rana pretiosa (Oregon spotted frog) and 
Rana luteiventris (Columbia spotted frog) based on genetic analyses 
(Green et al. 1996, 1997).
    Phylogenetic analyses were conducted on samples of Oregon spotted 
frogs collected from 3 locations in Washington and 13 locations in 
Oregon (Funk et al. 2008). Results indicate two well-supported clades 
(a group of biological taxa (as species) that includes all descendants 
of one common ancestor) nested within the Oregon spotted frog: the 
Columbia clade (Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve (NAP) and Camas 
Prairie) and the southern Oregon clade (Wood River and Buck Lake in the 
Klamath Basin). The Columbia River does not appear to act as a barrier, 
as the two sites that comprise the Columbia clade occur in Washington 
(Trout Lake NAP) and in Oregon (Camas Prairie). Haplotype and 
nucleotide diversity was low for Oregon spotted frogs in general and 
was very low for each of the two nested clades, respectively (Funk et 
al. 2008, p. 203). Only six haplotypes were found across the entire 
range of the Oregon spotted frog, indicating low genetic variation 
(Funk et al. 2008, p. 205). Recent genetic work conducted by Robertson 
and Funk (2012, p. 6) in the Deschutes and Klamath basins indicate the 
sampled Oregon spotted frog sites are characterized by very small 
effective population sizes and little genetic variation (i.e., measured 
as low heterozygosity and low allelic richness).
    Blouin et al. (2010) performed genetic analyses on Oregon spotted 
frogs from 23 of the known sites in British Columbia, Washington, and 
Oregon for variation at 13 microsatellite loci and 298 base pairs of 
mitochondrial DNA. Their results indicate that Rana pretiosa comprised 
six major genetic groups: (1) British Columbia; (2) the Chehalis 
drainage in Washington, (3) the Columbia drainage in Washington, (4) 
Camas Prairie in northern Oregon, (5) the central Cascades of Oregon, 
and (6) the Klamath basin (Blouin et al. 2010, pp. 2184-2185). Within 
the northern genetic groups, the British Columbia (Lower Fraser River) 
and Chehalis (Black River) populations form the next natural grouping 
(Blouin et al. 2010, p. 2189). Recently discovered locales in the 
Sumas, South Fork Nooksack, and Samish Rivers occur in-between these 
two groups. While no genetic testing has been done on these newly found 
populations, it is reasonable to assume that they are likely to be 
closely related to either the British Columbia or Chehalis group, or 
both, given their proximity and use of similar lowland marsh habitats.
    Levels of genetic variation in the Oregon spotted frog groups are 
low compared to other ranid frogs, suggesting these populations are 
very small and/or very isolated (Blouin et al. 2010, p. 2184). Blouin 
et al. (2010) found a high frequency of mitochondrial DNA private 
alleles (i.e., an allele found in only one population or geographic 
location) in the central Cascades and Klamath Basin groups. This 
finding suggests an historical (rather than recent) isolation between 
individual groups (Blouin et al. 2010, p. 2189). This finding also 
reinforces microsatellite-based conclusions that gene flow among sites 
has been very low, even on small geographic scales (Blouin et al. 2010, 
p. 2188). Recent work by Robertson and Funk (2012) in the Deschutes and 
Klamath basins reinforces the Blouin et al. (2010)

[[Page 53585]]

findings. Due to Oregon spotted frogs' highly aquatic habits, 
connectivity between Oregon spotted frog sites depends on the 
connectivity of streams, rivers, and lakes. Gene flow (based on both 
microsatellite and mitochondrial analyses) is extremely low beyond 6 mi 
(10 km) (Blouin et al. 2010, pp. 2186, 2188) and most Oregon spotted 
frog populations are separated by more than 6.2 miles (mi) (10 
kilometers (km). Therefore, Blouin et al. (2010, p. 2189), and 
Robertson and Funk (2012, p. 5) hypothesize that low aquatic 
connectivity and small isolated populations are important causes of the 
low genetic diversity within sites and the high genetic differentiation 
among sites.

Life-History

    Male Oregon spotted frogs are not territorial and often gather in 
large groups of 25 or more individuals at specific locations (Leonard 
et al. 1993, p. 132). Breeding occurs in February or March at lower 
elevations and between early April and early June at higher elevations 
(Leonard et al. 1993, p. 132). Males and females separate soon after 
egg-laying with females returning to fairly solitary lives. Males often 
stay at the breeding site, possibly for several weeks, until egg-laying 
is completed (McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 13) (The term egg-laying 
site or habitat is used interchangeably with breeding site or habitat 
throughout this rule).
    Oregon spotted frogs' eggs are extremely vulnerable to desiccation 
and freezing as a result of the species' laying habits. Females may 
deposit their egg masses at the same locations in successive years, 
indicating the sites may have unique characteristics. For example, some 
marked males and females at Sunriver (Upper Deschutes River, OR) 
returned to the same breeding site for 3 or more years (Bowerman 2006, 
pers. comm.). Further, at several sites in Oregon and Washington, the 
same egg-laying locations have been used for more than a decade (Hayes 
2008, pers. comm.). Although egg masses are occasionally laid singly, 
the majority of egg masses are laid communally in groups of a few to 
several hundred (Licht 1971, p. 119; Nussbaum et al. 1983, p. 186; 
Cooke 1984, p. 87; Hayes et al. 1997 p. 3; Engler and Friesz 1998, p. 
3). They are laid in shallow, often temporary, pools of water; 
gradually receding shorelines; on benches of seasonal lakes and 
marshes; and in wet meadows. These sites are usually associated with 
the previous year's emergent vegetation, are generally no more than 14 
in (35 centimeters (cm)) deep (Pearl and Hayes 2004, pp. 19-20), and 
most of these sites dry up later in the season (Joe Engler, FWS, pers. 
comm. 1999). Shallow water is easily warmed by the sun, and warmth 
hastens egg development (McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 8). However, 
laying eggs in shallow water can result in high mortality rates for 
eggs and hatchling larvae due to desiccation or freezing.
    Licht (1974, pp. 617-625) documented the highly variable mortality 
rates for spotted frog life-history stages in marsh areas in the lower 
Fraser Valley, BC: embryos (30 percent), tadpoles (99 percent), and 
post-metamorphic (after the change from tadpole to adult, or 
``metamorphosis'') frogs (95 percent). Licht (1974, p. 625) estimated 
mortality of each life stage and predicted only a 1 percent chance of 
survival of eggs to metamorphosis, a 67 percent chance of juvenile 
survival for the first year, and a 64 percent adult annual survival 
with males having a higher mortality rate than females. An average 
adult between-year survival of 37 percent was estimated by a mark-
recapture study at Dempsey Creek in Washington between 1997 and 1999 
(Watson et al. 2000, p. 19).
    Adult Oregon spotted frogs begin to breed by 1-3 years of age, 
depending on sex, elevation, and latitude. Males may breed at 1 year at 
lower elevations and latitudes but generally breed at 2 years of age. 
Females breed by 2 or 3 years of age, depending on elevation and 
latitude. Longevity of the species is not well understood; however, 
there are multiple examples of Oregon spotted frogs living beyond 7 
years of age (Watson et al. 2000, p. 21; Kelly McAllister, WDOT 2008, 
pers. comm.; Jill Oertley, U.S. Forest Service 2005, pers. comm.; Pearl 
2005, pers. comm.).
    Egg-laying can begin as early as February in British Columbia and 
Washington and as late as early June in the higher elevations. Tadpoles 
metamorphose into froglets (tiny frogs) (about 16-43 mm (0.6-1.75 in) 
in length) during their first summer (Leonard et al. 1993, p. 132; 
Pearl and Bowerman 2005, pers. comm.). Tadpoles are grazers, having 
rough tooth rows for scraping plant surfaces and ingesting plant tissue 
and bacteria. They also consume algae, detritus, and probably carrion 
(Licht 1974, p. 624; McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 13).
    Post-metamorphic Oregon spotted frogs are opportunistic predators 
that prey on live animals, primarily insects, found in or near the 
water. Important prey groups of adult frogs include leaf beetles 
(Chrysomelidae), ground beetles (Carabidae), spiders (Arachnidae), rove 
beetles (Staphylinidae), syrphid flies (Syrphidae), long-legged flies 
(Dolichopodidae), ants (Formicidae), water striders (Gerridae), 
spittlebugs (Cercopidae), leaf hoppers (Cicadellidae), aphids 
(Aphididae), dragonflies and damsel flies (Odonates), and yellowjackets 
(Vespidae) (Licht 1986a, pp. 27-28). Oregon spotted frogs also eat 
adult Pacific tree frogs (Pseudacris regilla), small red-legged frogs, 
and newly metamorphosed red-legged frogs and western toad (Bufo boreas) 
juveniles (Licht 1986a, p. 28; Pearl and Hayes 2002, pp. 145-147; Pearl 
et al. 2005a, p. 37).
    Similar to many North American pond-breeding anurans (belonging to 
the Order Anura, which contains all frogs), predators can strongly 
affect the abundance of larval and post-metamorphic Oregon spotted 
frogs. The heaviest losses to predation are thought to occur shortly 
after tadpoles emerge from eggs, when they are relatively exposed and 
poor swimmers (Licht 1974, p. 624). However, the odds of survival 
appear to increase as tadpoles grow in size and aquatic vegetation 
matures, thus affording cover (Licht 1974, p. 624). Adult Oregon 
spotted frogs have a number of documented and potential natural 
predators, including garter snakes (Thamnophis species (spp.)), great 
blue herons (Ardea herodias), green-backed herons (Butorides 
virescens), American bitterns (Botaurus lentiginosus), belted 
kingfishers (Ceryle alcyon), sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis), 
raccoons (Procyon lotor), coyotes (Canis latrans), striped skunks 
(Mephitis mephitis), mink (Mustela vison), river otters (Lutra 
canadensis), and feral cats (Felis domesticus) (McAllister and Leonard 
1997, p. 13; Hayes et al. 2005, p. 307; Hayes et al. 2006, p. 209). 
Tadpoles may be preyed upon by numerous vertebrate predators including 
belted kingfishers, hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus), common 
garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis), western terrestrial garter snakes 
(Thamnophis elegans), larval and adult roughskin newts (Taricha 
granulosa), larval northwestern salamanders (Ambystoma gracile), 
cutthroat trout (Oncorynchus clarki), Olympic mudminnows (Novumbra 
hubbsi), and three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) 
(McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 14).
    Subadult Oregon spotted frogs have been observed within dense 
aggregations of recently hatched Oregon spotted frog tadpoles, and 
stomach flushing verified that these subadult Oregon spotted frogs had 
consumed (cannibalized) recently hatched conspecific (belonging to the 
same

[[Page 53586]]

species) tadpoles (K. McAllister, pers. comm. 2008). Invertebrate 
predators include dytiscid beetles (Dytiscus spp.), giant water bugs 
(Lethocerus americanus), backswimmers (Notonecta undulata and N. 
kirbyi), water scorpions (Ranatra sp.), dragonfly nymphs (Odonata), and 
worm-leeches (Arhynchobdellida) (McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 14). 
Leeches and other invertebrates, roughskin newts, and northwestern 
salamanders are likely Oregon spotted frog egg predators (McAllister 
and Leonard 1997, p. 14).
    The introduction of nonnative species into the historical range of 
the Oregon spotted frog is believed to have contributed to the decline 
of this and other species of frogs (Hayes and Jennings 1986, pp. 491-
492, 494-496; Hayes 1994, p. 5; 61 FR 25813; McAllister and Leonard 
1997, pp. 25-26; Pearl et al. 2004, pp. 17-18). Bullfrogs (Lithobates 
catesbeiana) are known predators of Oregon spotted frogs (R. Haycock 
and R.A. Woods, unpubl. data, 2001 cited in COSFRT 2012, p. 19), and 
introduced fish such as brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and 
centrarchids (Micropterus and Lepomis spp.) are also likely predators 
(Pearl et al. 2009a, p. 140).

Habitat

    Watson et al. (2003, p. 298) summarized the conditions required for 
completion of the Oregon spotted frog life cycle as shallow water areas 
for egg and tadpole survival, perennially deep, moderately vegetated 
pools for adult and juvenile survival in the dry season, and perennial 
water for protecting all age classes during cold wet weather.
    The Oregon spotted frog inhabits emergent wetland habitats in 
forested landscapes, although it is not typically found under forest 
canopy. Historically, this species was also associated with lakes in 
the prairie landscape of the Puget lowlands (McAllister and Leonard 
1997, p. 16). This is the most aquatic native frog species in the 
Pacific Northwest, as all other species have a terrestrial life stage. 
It is almost always found in or near a perennial body of water, such as 
a spring, pond, lake, sluggish stream, irrigation canal, or roadside 
ditch (Engler 1999, pers. comm.). The observation that extant Oregon 
spotted frog populations tend to occur in larger wetlands led Hayes 
(1994, Part II pp. 5, 7) to hypothesize that a minimum size of 9 acres 
(ac) (4 hectares (ha)) may be necessary to reach suitably warm 
temperatures and support a large enough population to persist despite 
high predation rates. However, Oregon spotted frogs also occupy smaller 
sites and are known to occur at sites as small as 2.5 ac (1 ha) and as 
large as 4,915 ac (1,989 ha) (Pearl and Hayes 2004, p. 11). Oregon 
spotted frogs have been found at elevations ranging from near sea level 
in the Puget Trough lowlands in Washington to approximately 5,000 feet 
(ft) (1,500 meters (m)) in the Oregon Cascades in western Oregon 
(Dunlap 1955, p. 316; Hayes 1997, p. 16; McAllister and Leonard 1997, 
pp. 8-10).
    Oregon spotted frogs can make use of a variety of pond types as 
long as there is sufficient vegetation and seasonal habitat available 
for breeding, summer feeding, and overwintering (Pearl et al. 2009a, p. 
144). Oregon spotted frogs at Dempsey Creek in Washington selected 
areas of relatively shallow water with less emergent vegetation but 
more submergent vegetation than adjacent habitats. They avoided dry, 
upland areas of pasture grass (Watson et al. 1998, p. 10; 2000, pp. 54-
57; 2003, p. 297). Radio telemetry data indicates Oregon spotted frogs 
at Dempsey Creek also make extensive use of scrub-shrub wetland 
habitats adjacent to forested uplands (Risenhoover et al. 2001a, p. 
13).
    Oregon spotted frogs breed in shallow pools (2-12 in (5-30 cm) 
deep) that are near flowing water, or which may be connected to larger 
bodies of water during seasonally high water or at flood stage. 
Characteristic vegetation includes grasses, sedges, and rushes, 
although eggs are laid where the vegetation is low or sparse, such that 
vegetation structure does not shade the eggs (McAllister and Leonard 
1997, p. 17). While native vegetation is the preferred substrate, the 
frog may also use short, manipulated canarygrass/native vegetation mix 
(J. Engler, pers. comm. 1999). Full solar exposure seems to be a 
significant factor in breeding habitat selection (McAllister and White 
2001, p. 12; Pearl and Hayes 2004, p. 18). The availability of the 
unique characteristics of traditional egg-laying sites is limited, and 
adults may have limited flexibility to switch sites (Hayes 1994, p. 
19). This may make the Oregon spotted frog particularly vulnerable to 
modification of egg-laying sites (Hayes 1994, p. 19).
    After breeding, during the dry season, Oregon spotted frogs move to 
deeper, permanent pools or creeks (Watson et al. 2003, p. 295). They 
are often observed near the water surface basking and feeding in beds 
of floating and submerged vegetation (Watson et al. 2003, pp. 292-298; 
Pearl et al. 2005a, pp. 36-37).
    Known overwintering sites are associated with flowing systems, such 
as springs and creeks, that provide well-oxygenated water (Hallock and 
Pearson 2001, p. 15; Hayes et al. 2001, pp. 20-23, Tattersall and 
Ultsch 2008, pp. 123, 129, 136) and sheltering locations protected from 
predators and freezing (Risenhoover et al. 2001b; Watson et al. 2003, 
p. 295). Oregon spotted frogs apparently burrow in mud, silty 
substrate, clumps of emergent vegetation, woody accumulations within 
the creek, and holes in creek banks when inactive during periods of 
prolonged or severe cold (Watson et al. 2003, p. 295; Hallock and 
Pearson 2001, p. 16; McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 17); however, they 
are intolerant of anoxic (absence of dissolved oxygen) conditions and 
are unlikely to burrow into the mud for more than a day or two 
(Tattersall and Ultsch 2008, p. 136) because survival under anoxic 
conditions is only a matter of 4-7 days (Tattersall and Ultsch 2008, p. 
126). This species remains active during the winter in order to select 
microhabitats that can support aerobic metabolism and allow it to evade 
predators (Hallock and Pearson 2001, p. 15; Hayes et al. 2001, pp. 20-
23; Tattersall and Ultsch 2008, p. 136). In central Oregon, where 
winters generally result in ice cover over ponds, Oregon spotted frogs 
follow a fairly reliable routine of considerable activity and movement 
beneath the ice during the first month following freeze-up. Little 
movement is observed under the ice in January and February, but 
activity steadily increases in mid-March, even when ice cover persists 
(Bowerman 2006, pers. comm.). Radio-tracked frogs remained active all 
winter, even under the ice at Trout Lake NAP (Hallock 2009, pers comm.) 
and Conboy National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) (Hayes et al. 2001, pp. 16-
19).
    Results of a habitat utilization and movement study at Dempsey 
Creek in Washington indicate that adult frogs made infrequent movements 
between widely separated pools and more frequent movements between 
pools in closer proximity (Watson et al. 2003, p. 294), but remained 
within the study area throughout the year. Home ranges averaged 5.4 ac 
(2.2 ha), and daily movement was 16-23 ft (5-7 m) throughout the year 
(Watson et al. 2003, p. 295). During the breeding season (February-
May), frogs used about half the area used during the rest of the year. 
During the dry season (June-August), frogs moved to deeper, permanent 
pools, and occupied the smallest range of any season, then moved back 
toward their former breeding range during the wet season (September-
January) (Watson et al. 2003, p. 295). Individuals equipped with radio 
transmitters stayed within 2,600 ft (800 m) of capture

[[Page 53587]]

locations at the Dempsey Creek site (Watson et al. 1998, p. 10) and 
within 1,312 ft (400 m) at the Trout Lake NAP (Hallock and Pearson 
2001, p. 16).
    Recaptures of Oregon spotted frogs at breeding locations in the 
Buck Lake population in Oregon indicated that adults often move less 
than 300 ft (100 m) between years (Hayes 1998a, p. 9). However, longer 
travel distances, while infrequent, have been observed between years 
and within a single year between seasons. Three adult Oregon spotted 
frogs (one male and two females) marked in a study at Dempsey Creek and 
the Black River in Washington moved a distance of 1.5 mi (2.4 km) 
between seasons along lower Dempsey Creek to the creek's mouth from the 
point where they were marked (McAllister and Walker 2003, p. 6). Adult 
female Oregon spotted frogs traveled 1,434 ft (437 m) between seasons 
from their original capture location at the Trout Lake Wetland NAP 
(Hallock and Pearson 2001, p. 8). Two juvenile frogs at the Jack Creek 
site in Oregon were recaptured the next summer 4,084 ft (1,245 m) and 
4,511 ft (1,375 m) downstream from where they were initially marked, 
and one adult female moved 9,183 ft (2,799 m) downstream (Cushman and 
Pearl 2007, p. 13). Oregon spotted frogs at the Sunriver site routinely 
make annual migrations of 1,640 to 4,265 ft (500 to 1,300 m) between 
the major egg-laying complex and an overwintering site (Bowerman 2006, 
pers. comm.).
    While these movement studies are specific to Oregon spotted frogs, 
the number of studies and size of the study areas are limited and 
haven't been conducted over multiple seasons or years. In addition, the 
ability to detect frogs is challenging because of the difficult terrain 
in light of the need for the receiver and transmitter to be in close 
proximity. Hammerson (2005) recommends that a 3.1-mile (5-km) dispersal 
distance be applied to all ranid frog species, because the movement 
data for ranids are consistent. The preponderance of data indicates 
that a separation distance of several kilometers may be appropriate and 
practical for delineation of occupancy, despite occasional movements 
that are longer or that may allow some genetic interchange between 
distant populations (for example, the 6.2-mi (10-km) distance noted by 
Blouin et al. 2010, pp. 2186, 2188). Accordingly, based on the best 
available scientific information, we presume that Oregon spotted frog 
habitats are connected for purposes of genetic exchange when occupied/
suitable habitats fall within a maximum movement distance of 3.1 mi (5 
km).

Historical Range/Distribution

    Historically, the Oregon spotted frog ranged from British Columbia 
to the Pit River basin in northeastern California (Hayes 1997; p. 40; 
McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 7). Oregon spotted frogs have been 
documented at 61 historical localities in 48 watersheds (3 in British 
Columbia, 13 in Washington, 29 in Oregon, and 3 in California) in 31 
sub-basins (McAllister et al. 1993, pp. 11-12; Hayes 1997, p. 41; 
McAllister and Leonard 1997, pp. 18-20; COSEWIC 2011, pp. 12-13) (See 
Table 1). We are assuming the watersheds that have recently been 
documented to be occupied were also occupied historically based on 
their complete disconnect from known-occupied watersheds and the 
limited dispersal ability of Oregon spotted frog. For the rest of the 
document, we will describe historical and current range or distribution 
based on river sub-basins/watersheds. A river sub-basin is equivalent 
to a 4th field watershed and a hydrologic unit code of 8. A watershed 
is equivalent to a 5th field watershed and a hydrologic unit code of 
10.

     Table 1--Oregon Spotted Frog Historical and Extant Distribution
                            Throughout Range
------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Location                     Sub-basins *: Watersheds
------------------------------------------------------------------------
British Columbia.............   Lower Fraser River sub-basin
                                near Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford,
                                Nicomen Island in Matsqui, and in
                                Langley Township. Recently (1996/1997
                                and 2008) discovered at MD Aldergrove,
                                Maria Slough, Mountain Slough, and
                                Morris Valley.
Washington Counties: Clark,     Fraser River sub-basin: recently
 King, Klickitat, Pierce,       discovered (2012) in the Sumas River, a
 Skagit, Snohomish, and         tributary to the Lower Chilliwack River
 Thurston.                      watershed;
                                Nooksack River sub-basin: South
                                Fork Nooksack River (recently discovered
                                (2011 and 2012) in the Black Slough);
                                Straits of Georgia sub-basin:
                                recently discovered (2011 and 2012)
                                along the mainstem of the Samish River;
                                Lower Skagit River sub-basin:
                                Skagit River-Frontal Skagit Bay and
                                Finney Creek-Skagit River;
                                Skykomish River sub-basin: Woods
                                Creek-Skykomish River at Monroe;
                                Duwamish River sub-basin: Lower
                                Green River at Kent;
                                Lake Washington sub-basin: Lake
                                Washington at Seattle;
                                Puget Sound (no sub-basin):
                                Chambers Creek-Frontal Puget Sound
                                (Spanaway Lake) and McLane Creek-Frontal
                                Puget Sound (Patterson/Pattison Lake);
                                Nisqually River sub-basin: Lower
                                Nisqually River-Frontal Puget Sound
                                (Kapowsin);
                                Upper Chehalis River sub-basin:
                                Black River (Demspey Creek, Beaver
                                Creek, Blooms Ditch, and recently
                                discovered in Salmon and Fish Pond
                                Creeks);
                                Lower Willamette River sub-
                                basin: Salmon Creek-Frontal Columbia
                                River at Brush Prairie, Vancouver, and
                                possibly Burnt Bridge Creek at Orchards;
                                Middle Columbia-Hood River sub-
                                basin: White Salmon River (Trout Lake
                                Creek at Gular and Trout Lake);
                                Klickitat River sub-basin:
                                Middle Klickitat River (Conboy Lake on
                                Outlet, Fraiser, and Chapman Creeks).
Oregon Counties: Multnomah,     Lower Willamette River sub-
 Clackamas, Marion, Linn,       basin: Johnson Creek;
 Benton, Jackson, Lane,         Lower Deschutes River sub-basin:
 Wasco, Deschutes, and          Tygh Creek and White River;
 Klamath.                       Clackamas River sub-basin: Oak
                                Grove Fork Clackamas River;
                                Middle Willamette River sub-
                                basin: Mill Creek-Willamette River and
                                Oak Creek;
                                South Santiam River sub-basin:
                                South Santiam River-Hamilton Creek;
                                Upper Willamette River sub-
                                basin: Muddy Creek;
                                McKenzie River sub-basin: Upper
                                McKenzie River and South Fork McKenzie
                                River;
                                Middle Fork Willamette River sub-
                                basin: Salt Creek-Willamette River;
                                Upper Deschutes River sub-basin:
                                Deschutes River-McKenzie Canyon,
                                Deschutes River-Pilot Butte, Deschutes
                                River-Fall River, and Deschutes River-
                                Browns Creek;
                                Little Deschutes River sub-
                                basin: Upper Little Deschutes River,
                                Middle Little Deschutes River, Lower
                                Little Deschutes River, Long Prairie,
                                and Crescent Creek;

[[Page 53588]]

 
                                Williamson River sub-basin:
                                Klamath Marsh-Jack Creek, West of
                                Klamath Marsh, and Williamson River
                                above Klamath Marsh.
                                Sprague River sub-basin: North
                                Fork Sprague River and Sprague River
                                above Williamson;
                                Upper Klamath Lake sub-basin:
                                Wood River and Klamath Lake watersheds;
                                Upper Klamath sub-basin: Spencer
                                Creek and Jenny Creek;
                                Lost River sub-basin: Lake
                                Ewauna-Upper Klamath River.
California Counties: Modoc,     Lost River sub-basin: Lower
 Shasta, and Siskiyou.          Klamath Lake.
                                Upper Pit River sub-basin: Pine
                                Creek-South Pit River (near Alturas).
                                Lower Pit River sub-basin: Town
                                of Pittville-Pit River (near Fall River
                                Mills).
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Bolded sub-basins represent the sub-basins with extant locales. Oregon
  spotted frogs may not be extant in all of the historic watersheds
  within these sub-basins.

Current Range/Distribution

    Currently, the Oregon spotted frog is found from extreme 
southwestern British Columbia south through the Puget Trough, and in 
the Cascades Range from south-central Washington at least to the 
Klamath Basin in southern Oregon. Oregon spotted frogs occur in lower 
elevations in British Columbia and Washington and are restricted to 
high elevations in Oregon (Pearl et al. 2010 p. 7). In addition, Oregon 
spotted frogs currently have a very limited distribution west of the 
Cascade crest in Oregon, are considered to be extirpated from the 
Willamette Valley in Oregon (Cushman et al. 2007, p. 14), and may be 
extirpated in the Klamath and Pit River basins of California (Hayes 
1997, p. 1).
    In British Columbia, Oregon spotted frogs no longer occupy the 
locations documented historically, but they currently are known to 
occupy four disjunct locations in a single sub-basin, the Lower Fraser 
River (Canadian Oregon Spotted Frog Recovery Team 2012, p. 6).
    In Washington, Oregon spotted frogs are known to occur only within 
six sub-basins/watersheds: the Sumas River, a tributary to the Lower 
Fraser River; the Black Slough in the lower South Fork Nooksack River, 
a tributary of the Nooksack River; Samish River; Black River, a 
tributary of the Chehalis River; Outlet Creek (Conboy Lake), a 
tributary to the Middle Klickitat River; and Trout Lake Creek, a 
tributary of the White Salmon River. The Klickitat and White Salmon 
Rivers are tributaries to the Columbia River. The Oregon spotted frogs 
in each of these sub-basins/watersheds are isolated from frogs in other 
sub-basins.
    A reintroduction project was initiated in 2008 at Dailman Lake in 
Pierce County on Joint Base Lewis-McChord Military Reservation. This 
sub-basin (Nisqually River) was historically occupied by Oregon spotted 
frogs with documented occurrences at Spanaway Lake, Spanaway Pond, 
Little Spanaway Lake and Kapowsin (McAllister and Leonard 1997, pp. 18-
19). Eggs were collected from the Black River and the Conboy Lake 
Oregon spotted frog breeding locations, captive reared until 
metamorphosis, and released in the fall or subsequent spring. Through 
2011, researchers collected 7,870 eggs and released 3,355 frogs (Tirhi 
and Schmidt 2011, pp. 51-53). Surveys in April 2011 found 3 verified 
Oregon spotted frog egg masses and 11 suspected egg masses. However, 
breeding was not detected in 2012. This effort is ongoing and the 
efficacy and viability of a breeding Oregon spotted frog population 
being established in this area is undetermined. The reintroduction 
efforts at this location are not likely to facilitate Oregon spotted 
frog recovery in this extirpated sub-basin because of the extent of 
development at the historical locales and lack of suitable habitat; 
therefore, this location will not be discussed further.
    In Oregon, Oregon spotted frogs are known to occur only within 
eight sub-basins: Lower Deschutes River, Upper Deschutes River, Little 
Deschutes River, McKenzie River, Middle Fork Willamette, Upper Klamath, 
Upper Klamath Lake, and the Williamson River. The Oregon spotted frogs 
in most of these sub-basins are isolated from frogs in other sub-
basins, although Oregon spotted frogs in the lower Little Deschutes 
River are aquatically connected with those below Wickiup Reservoir in 
the Upper Deschutes River sub-basin. Oregon spotted frog distribution 
west of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon is restricted to a few lakes in 
the upper watersheds of the McKenzie River and Middle Fork Willamette 
River sub-basins, which represent the remaining 2 out of 12 
historically occupied sub-basins.
    In California, this species has not been detected since 1918 
(California Academy of Science Museum Record 44291) at historical sites 
and may be extirpated (Hayes 1997 pp. 1, 35). However, there has been 
little survey effort of potential habitat since 1996, so this species 
may still occur in California.

Population Estimates and Status

    Of the 61 historical localities where the species' previous 
existence can be verified (e.g., museum specimens, photographs, 
reliable published records), only 13 were confirmed as being occupied 
in studies conducted in the 1990s (Hayes 1997, p. 1; McAllister and 
Leonard 1997, p. 20). Hayes visited historical localities one to four 
times, with a minimum of 2 hours devoted to site visits for localities 
that could be identified precisely. For sites where the location was 
imprecisely known, he searched three to six points in the area that 
possessed favorable habitat, for 20 minutes to 3 hours, depending on 
site size. He also visited sites that were judged to have a potentially 
high likelihood of having Oregon spotted frogs (i.e., within the 
historical range, consistent with elevations documented for verifiable 
specimens, and within suitable habitat) (Hayes 1997, p. 6). Based on 
those studies, Hayes (1997, p. 1) estimated the species may no longer 
occur in 76 to 90 percent of its historical range. Although this 
estimated loss of historical localities does not take into account the 
localities found since 2000, the current range of the Oregon spotted 
frog is significantly smaller than the historical range, based on the 
best available scientific and commercial information.
    Egg mass counts are believed to be a good metric of adult 
population size and are the most time-efficient way to estimate 
population size (Phillipsen et al. 2009, p. 7). Adult females lay one 
egg mass per year, and the breeding period occurs within a reliable and 
predictable timeframe each year (McAllister 2006, pers. comm.). Egg 
mass numbers are collected in a single survey timed to coincide with 
the end of the breeding season, when egg laying should be

[[Page 53589]]

complete and the egg mass count represents a reliable estimate of total 
egg masses. Because one egg mass is approximately equivalent to one 
breeding female plus one to two adult males, a rough estimate of adult 
population size can be made if a thorough egg mass census is completed 
(Phillipsen et al. 2009, p. 7). Using egg mass counts to estimate 
population size has some weaknesses. For example, researchers have 
uncertainties about whether adult females breed every year and find 
difficulty in distinguishing individual egg masses in large communal 
clusters. However, a minimum population estimate can be derived from 
the total egg mass count multiplied by two (one egg mass equals two 
adult frogs). While there are weaknesses in these estimates, as 
discussed above, they are the best estimates available for Oregon 
spotted frog numbers.
    Egg mass counts, as currently conducted at most sites, do not allow 
for evaluation of trends within a site nor between sites because 
surveys are not standardized. Survey effort, area coverage, and timing 
can differ between years at individual sites. In addition, method of 
survey can differ between years at individual sites and differs between 
sites. Because of the weaknesses associated with the egg mass counts, 
site estimates derived from egg mass counts are considered to be a 
minimum estimate and generally should not be compared across years or 
with other sites. However, some breeding locations have been surveyed 
in a consistent manner (in some cases by the same researcher) and for 
enough years that trend data are available and considered to be 
reliable. Trend information is provided in the following sub-basin 
summaries for the locations where the information is available.
    For the purposes of this document, the terms `location' and `site' 
simply refer to the general locations where breeding has been observed. 
In some cases, a site may be equivalent to an Oregon spotted frog 
population (for example, Penn Lake). In other cases, a site may include 
multiple breeding locations within wetland complexes where hydrological 
connections may facilitate movement between breeding areas, but where 
movement patterns and genetic conditions are undetermined within the 
complexes (for example, Klamath Marsh NWR. Accordingly, a site should 
not be interpreted to be a population. Because of the lack of complete 
information between breeding locations, populations were not 
specifically identified for this status review, and the focus of our 
analysis regarding the status of Oregon spotted frogs was within the 
individual river sub-basins.
    The following summarizes the best available scientific and 
commercial information available regarding populations within the 
currently occupied river sub-basins in British Columbia, Washington, 
and Oregon. We used multiple data sources, including various 
unpublished reports, databases, and spreadsheets provided by our 
partner agencies. These sources are identified in the following 
sections as ``multiple data sources'' and are included in our 
literature cited list, which is included as supplementary information 
on http://www.regulations.gov for this proposed rule. These sources are 
available upon request from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Office 
(see ADDRESSES). In most sub-basins, trend information regarding the 
collective status of the populations within the sub-basin is limited or 
not available, though it is presented below where available. The status 
of a sub-basin may be undetermined because the Oregon spotted frog 
presence has only recently been identified, the trend information is 
uncertain, or sufficient survey information is not available to 
indicate a trend. However, when viewed at the range-wide scale, the 
Oregon spotted frog has been extirpated from most of its historical 
range, and the threat of current and future impacts to the Oregon 
spotted frog occurs over the entire range of the species. Ongoing 
threats have significantly reduced the overall extent and distribution 
of suitable habitat for the Oregon spotted frog, as discussed in 
``Summary of Factors Affecting the Species'' below.
British Columbia
    Currently, Oregon spotted frogs are known to occur only within four 
sites in the Lower Fraser River Basin. Of the four sites, Maintenance 
Detachment Aldergrove (MD Aldergrove) is nearing, or may have reached 
extirpation, as no egg masses have been discovered at the site since 
2006; Mountain Slough appears to be stable; Maria Slough may be 
declining; and there is limited data for the recently discovered Morris 
Valley site (COSEWIC 2011, p. v). Estimates from the three most well-
studied populations (MD Aldergrove, Maria Slough, Mountain Slough) 
indicate a population decline of 35 percent during the period 2000-2010 
(COSEWIC 2011, p. 32), and the most recent egg mass counts indicate the 
minimum population size for all of British Columbia is fewer than 350 
adults (COSEWIC 2011, pp. 27-30). One extant population is near 
extinction, and the remaining populations are small and vulnerable to 
disturbance and stochastic events. Extirpation of the MD Aldergrove 
population would result in a reduction of 76 percent of the extent of 
Oregon spotted frog in the Lower Fraser River (COSEWIC 2011, pp. vii-
ix). Therefore, populations of Oregon spotted frogs in the Lower Fraser 
River are declining.
Washington
    In Washington, the Oregon spotted frog was historically found in 
the Puget Trough from the Canadian border to the Columbia River, and 
east to the Washington Cascades (McAllister et al. 1997, p. vii). 
Current distribution is limited to four watersheds in the Puget Trough, 
three that drain to Puget Sound and one that drains to the Pacific 
Ocean, and two watersheds in the southeast Cascades that drain to the 
Columbia River. In 1997, the locations for 11 historical populations in 
Washington were verified using museum specimen and published records, 
and only 1 historically known population and 2 recently discovered 
populations were known to remain in Washington in 1997 (McAllister et 
al. 1997, p. vii). The authors also stated that past populations of the 
Oregon spotted frog in Washington are largely undocumented (McAllister 
et al. 1997, p. 18). Current population estimates are based on the 2012 
census of egg masses at all known extant breeding areas. Based on these 
estimates, the minimum population in Washington was at least 7,368 
breeding adults in 2012.
    Trend data are limited; however, the Oregon spotted frog population 
in the Middle Klickitat River (Conboy Lake) appears to be declining 
(see below for further information). The population trend within the 
rest of the occupied sub-basins is unknown, although some individual 
breeding areas may be stable or extirpated (for example, 110th Ave in 
the Black River). More detailed discussions of Washington's occupied 
sub-basins/watersheds are provided below.
    Lower Chilliwack River (Sumas River)--In 2012, one Oregon spotted 
frog breeding area was found on a privately owned dairy farm on a small 
tributary to the Sumas River (Bohannon et al. 2012). The Sumas River is 
a tributary to the Lower Fraser River, along which the British Columbia 
breeding areas occur. However, the breeding area on the Sumas River is 
more than 20 mi (35 km) upstream of the confluence with the Fraser 
River, and separated by unsuitable aquatic habitat. Therefore, an 
aquatic connection to the British Columbia

[[Page 53590]]

breeding areas is not likely (COSEWIC 2011, p. 12). Fewer than 50 egg 
masses (<100 adults) were found during the 2012 surveys, however, 
suitable habitat within the Sumas River has not been surveyed 
extensively (Bohannon et al. 2012) and the full extent of Oregon 
spotted frog distribution and abundance has not been determined.
    South Fork Nooksack River--In 2011 and 2012, Oregon spotted frog 
breeding areas were found on privately owned parcels in the Black 
Slough, a tributary of the South Fork Nooksack River. On one parcel, 
the egg-laying habitat was in off-channel wetlands dominated by reed 
canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea) and recent shrub plantings. Egg-
laying areas on other parcels were located within former pasture lands 
that had been planted with trees and fenced within the last 2 or 3 
years under the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to 
eliminate grazing and improve water quality (Bohannon et al. 2012). At 
least 230 adults (based on 2012 surveys) are associated with the known 
breeding areas along the Black Slough; however, this area has not been 
surveyed extensively (Bohannon et al. 2012), and the full extent of 
Oregon spotted frog distribution and abundance has not been determined.
    Samish River--In 2011 and 2012, Oregon spotted frog breeding areas 
were found on privately owned parcels along the upper reaches of the 
Samish River. All of the breeding areas are seasonally flooded grazed 
or formerly grazed pasture lands that are predominantly reed 
canarygrass (Bohannon et al. 2012). At least 1,220 adults (based on 
2012 surveys) are associated with the known breeding areas along the 
Samish River; however, this area has not been surveyed extensively, and 
the full extent of Oregon spotted frog distribution and abundance has 
not been determined.
    Black River--Oregon spotted frogs occupy wetlands in the floodplain 
and tributaries of the upper Black River drainage between Black Lake 
and the town of Littlerock. They are currently known to occur at two 
locations within the Black River floodplain (Blooms Ditch near 110th 
Avenue Bridge and near 123rd Avenue) and in four tributaries: Dempsey 
Creek, Salmon Creek, Allen Creek, and Beaver Creek (Hallock 2013; WDFW 
and USFWS multiple data sources). In 2012, a new breeding location was 
detected along Fish Pond Creek, which flows directly into Black Lake, 
not Black River. Oregon spotted frog egg-laying areas in the Black 
River may be isolated from each other and the frogs associated with the 
Fish Pond Creek may not be hydrologically connected to frogs in the 
Black River due to the human alteration of the Black Lake drainage 
pattern. Further investigation of this new location is needed.
    The full extent of the population's distribution, abundance, and 
status in the Black River has not been determined. As of 2012, the 
Black River adult breeding population comprised at least 1,748 breeding 
adults (Hallock 2013, p. 27). Oregon spotted frogs in Dempsey Creek 
have been monitored relatively consistently since the late 1990s. Other 
breeding areas in the Black River have been monitored inconsistently or 
are newly found, and surveys to identify additional breeding locations 
continue. The Dempsey Creek breeding area may be declining, but the 
trend for the remainder of the occupied areas is undetermined.
    White Salmon River (Trout Lake Creek)--Oregon spotted frogs occupy 
approximately 1,285 ac (520 ha) of the lower Trout Lake Creek 
watershed, ranging in elevation 1,960-2,080 ft (597-633 m). In total, 
as of 2012, a minimum population estimate of 2,124 breeding adults 
(Hallock 2012) associated with 12 breeding areas have been identified. 
Two of the breeding areas have been monitored since they were found by 
Leonard (1997). The other locations have been monitored sporadically 
since they were discovered. Monitoring of egg mass numbers at two 
breeding areas within the Trout Lake NAP revealed considerable 
population volatility and a general pattern of decline from 2001 
through 2007 (Hallock 2011, p. 8). During the period of egg mass 
declines, three events of note occurred that could have influenced 
frogs at the NAP: Annual precipitation was unusually low, cattle 
grazing was reduced and then eliminated, and frogs infected with 
chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatids (Bd)) were present (Pearl 
et al. 2009b, Hayes et al. 2009). While the 2009 and 2010 egg mass 
counts indicate that Oregon spotted frog numbers may be rebounding 
within the eastern portions of the NAP, the numbers in the western 
portion continue to be less than half of the estimates from the 1990s.
    Middle Klickitat River (Conboy Lake)--The extent of Conboy Lake 
wetland complex habitat occupied by Oregon spotted frogs at high water 
is approximately 7,462 ac (3,020 ha), ranging in elevation 1,804-1,896 
ft (550-576 m). This wetland complex comprises two lakebeds that are 
entirely seasonal (except in wet years) and are joined by Camas Ditch, 
which flows into Outlet Creek, the main drainage for the system that 
flows northeast into the Klickitat River. As of 2012, there were a 
minimum of 1,954 breeding adults in the Conboy Lake wetland complex 
(Hallock 2013, p. 27). This used to be the largest Oregon spotted frog 
population throughout the entire range (highest egg mass count 7,018 in 
year 1998). However, Oregon spotted frog egg mass surveys suggest a 
continued long-term decline (approximately 86 percent) since 1998 
(Hayes and Hicks 2011; Hallock 2013, p. 36). At present, the population 
trend of Oregon spotted frogs in the Middle Klickitat River is 
considered to be declining.
Oregon
    Population estimates of Oregon spotted frogs in Oregon are 
primarily based on egg mass surveys conducted in 2011 and 2012 at all 
known extant sites, and newly discovered occupied areas that had been 
unsurveyed prior to 2012. Population estimates for the Middle Fork 
Willamette River sub-basin are based on mark-recapture studies 
conducted by USGS in 2011, rather than egg mass surveys. Based on these 
survey data, the minimum population estimate in Oregon consists of 
approximately 12,847 breeding adults. More detailed discussions of 
Oregon's occupied sub-basins are provided below and are available in 
our files.
    Lower Deschutes River--Within the Lower Deschutes River sub-basin, 
a single extant population of Oregon spotted frog occurs at Camas 
Prairie, an 82-ac (33-ha) marsh located along Camas Creek in the White 
River watershed. The Camas Prairie Oregon spotted frogs are the most 
geographically isolated, carry several alleles that are absent or rare 
in other sites, and have the lowest genetic diversity of Oregon spotted 
frogs rangewide (Blouin et al. 2010, p. 2185). The frogs at this 
location appear to be the only remaining representatives of a major 
genetic group that is now almost extinct (Blouin et al. 2010, p. 2190). 
Since 2004, egg mass surveys have been conducted annually, and the 
population trend has been positive. Based on the 2012 egg mass count, 
the minimum population size of breeding adults is 152 (Corkran 2012, 
pers. comm.). Although the population trend has been positive at the 
single known location, the number of individuals in the population 
remains low.
    Upper Deschutes River--Oregon spotted frogs in the Upper Deschutes 
River sub-basin occur in high-elevation lakes up to 5,000 ft (1,524 m), 
wetland ponds, and riverine wetlands and oxbows along the Deschutes 
River. Approximately 13 known breeding locations are within four 
watersheds in

[[Page 53591]]

the sub-basin: Charleton Creek, Browns Creek, Fall River, and North 
Unit Diversion Dam. Eight of these breeding locations occur in lakes on 
the Deschutes National Forest that drain to the Crane Prairie and 
Wickiup Reservoir complex. Three of the known breeding sites occur 
downstream of Wickiup Reservoir in riverine wetlands along the 
Deschutes River, extending to Bend, Oregon.
    The consistency of population surveys varies by breeding site, and 
population trend information is limited. Only two sites within the sub-
basin have been monitored consistently since the early 2000s and show 
an increasing population trend: Dilman Meadow and Sunriver (USGS and J. 
Bowerman 2000 through 2012 datasets). Trend data are not available for 
the remainder of populations within the Upper Deschutes River sub-
basin. Sunriver, located downstream of Wickiup Reservoir, is the 
largest population of Oregon spotted frogs within the Deschutes River 
sub-basin with a population of at least 1,454 breeding adults based on 
2012 egg mass surveys (J. Bowerman dataset 2012). A minimum population 
estimate for the Upper Deschutes River sub-basin (including Sunriver) 
is approximately 3,530 breeding adults based on surveys since 2006 
(USGS 2006 to 2012 and J. Bowerman 2012 datasets).
    Little Deschutes River--Oregon spotted frogs are distributed 
throughout wetland, pond, and riverine habitats in the Little Deschutes 
River sub-basin, which drains an area of approximately 1,020 square 
miles (2,600 km\2\) and flows north from its headwaters in northern 
Klamath County to its convergence with the Deschutes River 1 mi (1.2 
km) south of Sunriver and approximately 20 mi (32 km) south of Bend, 
Oregon. The Little Deschutes River is approximately 92 mi (148 km) 
long. Approximately 23 known breeding locations (as of 2012) are within 
five watersheds in the sub-basin: Upper, Middle, and Lower Little 
Deschutes River; Crescent Creek; and Long Prairie. Big Marsh, a 2,000-
ac (809 ha) wetland located within headwaters at 4,760 ft (1,451 m) 
elevation on the Deschutes National Forest, has the largest monitored 
population of Oregon spotted frogs in the Little Deschutes River sub-
basin and possibly rangewide. The estimated population size of Big 
Marsh based on a 2012 U.S. Forest Service (USFS) egg mass survey is 
5,324 breeding adults (male and female) (USFS data 2012).
    Because 70 percent of the sub-basin is privately owned and mostly 
unsurveyed, a population estimate for the entire Little Deschutes River 
sub-basin is difficult to determine. A minimum population estimate of 
Oregon spotted frogs based on limited survey data from public and 
private lands in 2012 is approximately 6,628 breeding adults (including 
Big Marsh above). However, the vast acreage of wetland complexes and 
suitable habitat for Oregon spotted frogs along the mainstem Little 
Deschutes River and Crescent Creek indicate that the frog population 
within the unsurveyed areas may be well above this estimate. Although 
the trend of the frog population at Big Marsh appears to be increasing 
based on USFS surveys from 2002 to 2012 (USFS 2002-2012), the 
population trend of the remainder of frogs within the sub-basin is 
undetermined.
    McKenzie River--Oregon spotted frogs in the McKenzie River sub-
basin are located within the South Fork McKenzie River watershed in an 
area referred to as the Mink Lake Basin in the wilderness of the 
Willamette National Forest. There are two known breeding populations: 
one at Penn Lake and one at an unnamed marsh 0.28 mi (0.45 km) north of 
Mink Lake. The Penn Lake and Unnamed Marsh populations are about 0.93 
mi (1.5 km) apart and are not hydrologically connected via surface 
water. Mark-recapture monitoring of these populations has been 
conducted by USGS from 2007 through 2011 (Adams et al. 2007, 2008 p. 
13, 2009 p. 14, 2010 p. 14 and 2011 p. 14). A population estimate for 
breeding adults in the McKenzie River sub-basin, based on mark-
recapture efforts by USGS in 2011 is 217 (i.e., 179 at Penn Lake and 38 
at Unnamed Marsh) (Adams et al. 2011). However, trend has not been 
estimated for these populations.
    Middle Fork Willamette River--Oregon spotted frogs in the Middle 
Fork Willamette River sub-basin are limited to a single population at 
Gold Lake and bog, located in the 465-ac (188-ha) Gold Lake Bog 
Research Natural Area on the Willamette National Forest within the Salt 
Creek watershed. This population is one of three remaining populations 
of Oregon spotted frogs west of the Cascade mountain crest in Oregon. 
The Gold Lake Bog site consists of three small ponds over an area of 
approximately 3.7 ac (1.5 ha) within a larger bog where three major 
streams converge. Breeding surveys are periodically conducted by USGS 
and the Willamette National Forest. However, long-term trend data are 
lacking for this site. Based on USGS egg mass surveys in 2007, the 
estimated population size is approximately 1,458 breeding adults (USGS 
datasets).
    Williamson River--Oregon spotted frogs in the Williamson River sub-
basin occur in two watersheds: Klamath Marsh/Jack Creek and Williamson 
River above Klamath Marsh and consist of three populations: Jack Creek, 
Klamath Marsh NWR, and the Upper Williamson River. Data from 1996 
through the present suggests the Jack Creek population is declining, 
and the survey data from 2000 through the present suggests that the 
Klamath Marsh population is stable. These watersheds are a mixture of 
both private and public (BLM, USFS, and NWR) lands and consist of both 
wetland and riverine potential habitats from 4,500 to 5,200 ft (1,371-
1,585 m) in elevation. As of 2011, the minimum population estimate for 
the sub-basin is approximately 376 breeding individuals (male and 
female) (KMNWR 2011, USFS 2012, USGS multiple datasets). Permission to 
survey adjacent private lands has not been obtained, however, the 
private lands surrounding the public lands appear to have suitable 
habitat and likely contain additional breeding complexes and 
individuals.
    Upper Klamath Lake--Oregon spotted frogs in the Upper Klamath Lake 
sub-basin occupy two watersheds that flow into Upper Klamath Lake: 
Klamath Lake and Wood River. There are four populations in this sub-
basin: Crane Creek, Fourmile Creek, Sevenmile Creek, the Wood River 
channel and the adjacent but separate BLM Wood River canal. These 
populations occur in both riverine and wetland habitats. Historically, 
these two watersheds were hydrologically connected. Survey efforts on 
Fourmile Creek, Sevenmile Creek, and the Wood River channel have been 
sporadic while Crane Creek and the BLM Wood River canal have been 
surveyed annually. These data suggest that there is still insufficient 
information to obtain population trends for all but the BLM Wood River 
canal population, which is declining. As of 2011, the minimum 
population estimate for the sub-basin is approximately 374 breeding 
individuals (male and female) (USGS multiple datasets, BLM multiple 
datasets). Permission to survey adjacent private lands has not been 
obtained, however, the private lands surrounding the known populations 
appear to have suitable habitat and likely contain additional breeding 
complexes and individuals. Trend data are lacking for three out of four 
populations in the Upper Klamath Lake.
    Upper Klamath--Oregon spotted frogs in the Upper Klamath sub-basin 
occupy two lacustrine habitats: Parsnip Lakes in Jackson County and 
Buck Lake in Klamath County. Both of these sites are

[[Page 53592]]

isolated hydrologically by great distances (>20 mi (32 km)) and 
hydrological barriers (inhospitable habitat and dams) to other sites in 
the Klamath Basin. Historical surveys in this sub-basin resulted in a 
population estimate of about 1,170 adults (range of <0 to 2,379, 95 
percent CI) (Hayes 1998a, p. 10 and Parker 2009, p. 4). Trend data is 
lacking for Parsnip Lakes population in the Upper Klamath sub-basin, 
but recent surveys conducted at Buck Lake have documented small numbers 
of egg masses (38 egg masses in 2010, or the equivalent of 76 breeding 
individuals (male and female) and 18 egg masses at Parsnip Lakes, or 36 
breeding individuals (male and female) (BLM 2012). Survey data for the 
Upper Klamath sub-basin suggests that the Buck Lake population is in 
decline. However, there is insufficient survey data information to 
determine the population trend of the Parsnip Lakes population. The 
minimum population estimate for this sub-basin is currently (2011) 
estimated to be 112 breeding individuals suggesting drastic population 
declines since 1998.
Summary of Current Population Range and Trend
    Oregon spotted frogs may no longer occur in as much as 90 percent 
of their historically documented range, including all of the historical 
localities in California (i.e., 90 percent of the historical areas are 
no longer occupied). Currently, the Oregon spotted frog is found in 15 
sub-basins ranging from extreme southwestern British Columbia south 
through the Puget Trough, and in the Cascades Range from south-central 
Washington at least to the Klamath Basin in Oregon. Oregon spotted 
frogs occur in lower elevations in British Columbia and Washington and 
are restricted to higher elevations (i.e., 4,000 to 5,200 ft (1,219 to 
1,585 m) in Oregon. In addition, Oregon spotted frogs currently have a 
very limited distribution west of the Cascade crest in Oregon and are 
considered to be extirpated from the Willamette Valley.
    In most sub-basins, trend information regarding the collective 
status of the populations within the sub-basin is limited or not 
available. The best available scientific and commercial information 
available indicates the trend is undetermined for Oregon spotted frog 
populations in 13 of the sub-basins and is declining in the Lower 
Fraser River and Middle Klickitat sub-basins. Threats to the remaining 
populations are ongoing or increasing, however, as described below.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding 
species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based 
on any of the following five factors: (A) The present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; and (E) other natural or manmade 
factors affecting its continued existence. Listing actions may be 
warranted based on any of the above threat factors, singly or in 
combination. Each of these threats/factors is discussed below.
    Threats for the Oregon spotted frog were assessed by breeding 
locations and occupied watersheds, then summarized by occupied sub-
basin. Each of the five threat categories were summarized by sub-basin 
using the unified threats classification system (loosely based on the 
IUCN-CMP (World Conservation Union-Conservation Measures Partnership)), 
best available data, and best professional judgment. We summarized each 
occupied sub-basin for scope, severity, impact, timing, and stress, to 
ensure our determination would be based on the best scientific and 
commercial data available, as required under section 4(b)(1)(A). Scope 
is the proportion of the occupied area within the sub-basin that can 
reasonably be expected to be affected. Severity is the level of damage 
to the species from the threat that can reasonably be expected. Impact 
summarizes the degree to which a species is observed, inferred, or 
suspected to be directly or indirectly affected and is based on the 
combination of the severity and scope rating (for example, if the 
severity and scope ratings were both high, then the impact rating was 
high). Timing is the immediacy of the threat (i.e., is the threat 
ongoing, could happen in the short term, or is only in the past). 
Stress is the key ecological, demographic, or individual attribute that 
may be impaired or reduced by a threat. The completed analysis (Threats 
Synthesis Rangewide Analysis) is available at http://www.regulations.gov and http://www.fws.gov/wafwo. The syntheses by 
threat categories are included in the following threat factor 
discussions.
    Large historical losses of wetland habitat have occurred across the 
range of the Oregon spotted frog. Wetland losses are estimated from 
between 30 to 85 percent across the species range with the greatest 
percentage lost having occurred in British Columbia. These wetland 
losses have directly influenced the current fragmentation and isolation 
of remaining Oregon spotted frog populations.
    Loss of natural wetland and riverine disturbance processes as a 
result of human activities has and continues to result in degradation 
of Oregon spotted frog habitat. Historically, a number of disturbance 
processes created early successional wetlands favorable to Oregon 
spotted frogs throughout the Pacific Northwest: (1) Rivers freely 
meandered over their floodplains, removing trees and shrubs and baring 
patches of mineral soil; (2) beavers created a complex mosaic of 
aquatic habitat types for year-round use; and (3) summer fires burned 
areas that would be shallow water wetlands during the Oregon spotted 
frog breeding season the following spring. Today, all of these natural 
processes are greatly reduced, impaired, or have been permanently 
altered as a result of human activities, including stream bank, 
channel, and wetland modifications; operation of water control 
structures (e.g., dams and diversions); beaver removal; and fire 
suppression.
    The historical loss of Oregon spotted frog habitats and lasting 
anthropogenic changes in natural disturbance processes are exacerbated 
by the introduction of reed canarygrass, nonnative predators, and 
potentially climate change. In addition, current regulatory mechanisms 
and voluntary incentive programs designed to benefit fish species have 
inadvertently led to the continuing decline in quality of Oregon 
spotted frog habitats in some locations. The current wetland and stream 
vegetation management paradigm is generally a no-management or 
restoration approach that often results in succession to a tree- and 
shrub-dominated community that unintentionally degrades or eliminates 
remaining or potential suitable habitat for Oregon spotted frog 
breeding. Furthermore, incremental wetland loss or degradation 
continues under the current regulatory mechanisms. If left unmanaged, 
these factors are anticipated to result in the eventual elimination of 
remaining suitable Oregon spotted frog habitats or populations. The 
persistence of habitats required by the species is now largely 
management dependent.

[[Page 53593]]

Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range

    Threats to the species' habitat include changes in hydrology due to 
construction of dams and human-related alterations to seasonal 
flooding, introduction of nonnative plant and animal species, 
vegetation succession and encroachment, poor water quality, livestock 
grazing (in some circumstances), and residential and commercial 
development.
    Habitat losses and alterations affect amphibian species in a 
variety of ways, including reducing or eliminating immigration through 
losses of adjacent populations (see ``Factor E'') and effects on 
critical aspects of the habitat (Hayes and Jennings 1986, pp. 492-494). 
These critical aspects include suitable egg-laying and nursery sites, 
refuges from predation or unfavorable environmental conditions, and 
suitable temperatures necessary for egg laying, growth, and development 
(Hayes and Jennings 1986, pp. 492-494).
    Because Oregon spotted frogs have specific habitat requirements, 
they are particularly vulnerable to habitat alterations: (1) A 
restricted number of communal egg-laying locations are used year after 
year; (2) the species' warm water microhabitat requirement results in 
habitat overlap with introduced warm water fish species and other warm 
water fauna that prey on Oregon spotted frogs (for example, bullfrogs); 
(3) the availability of suitable warm water habitat, a requirement in 
the active season, is generally limited in the cool climate of the 
Pacific Northwest; (4) the species is vulnerable to the loss or 
alteration of springs used for overwintering; and (5) their habitat 
requirements (for example, spatial structure) for overwintering, active 
season, and breeding habitats are more complex than for other frog 
species (Hayes et al. 1997, p. 4). In addition, breeding habitat is 
arguably the single most important habitat component for many aquatic-
breeding amphibians because amphibian embryos and larvae depend on 
aquatic habitats for survival (Leonard 1997, p. 1).
Loss of Wetlands
    British Columbia--Extensive diking of river ways and draining of 
Sumas Lake for conversion to agriculture significantly modified 
drainage patterns and resulted in loss of associated wetlands in the 
Fraser River lowlands of British Columbia (COSEWIC 2011, p. 20). Boyle 
et al. (1997, p. 190) estimated an 85 percent loss of habitat types 
preferred by Oregon spotted frogs (fen, swamp/bog/marsh) between 1820 
and 1990. Moore et al. (2003 cited in COSEWIC 2011) found wetland loss 
continued between 1989 and 1999 as a result of urban and agricultural 
encroachment. Agricultural land use changes, such as the conversion of 
field habitat to blueberry and cranberry production, has led to impacts 
through drain tile installation and riparian area encroachment/erosion. 
Sediment deposition into streams and wetlands by runoff from adjacent 
agricultural fields can impact Oregon spotted frog breeding habitat by 
changing the channel/wetland shape and depth (Lynch and Corbett 1990). 
Land conversion for agriculture is ongoing at Mountain Slough and to 
some extent at Maria Slough and Morris Valley (COSFRT 2012, p. 24), 
within Oregon spotted frog habitat.
    Washington--Estimates for Washington indicate that over 33 percent 
of wetlands were drained, diked, and filled between pre-settlement 
times and the 1980s (Canning and Stevens 1990, p. 23); losses in the 
historical range of the Oregon spotted frog are even higher because of 
the high degree of development in the low elevations of the Puget 
Trough (McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 22).
    Major alterations to Conboy Lake wetland complex in Washington 
began when settlers started moving to Glenwood Valley in the late 
1800s. Wet meadows were drained through a series of canals, ditches, 
and dikes largely developed between 1911 and 1914, and remain today. 
The five creeks that flow into this wetland complex and the Cold 
Springs ditch are entirely channelized within the wetland complex. 
Ditching, filling, and other habitat alterations have resulted in 
little or no retention of surface water in the late-season lakebeds 
(Conboy Lake and Camas Prairie), reducing the amount of aquatic habitat 
available for the Oregon spotted frog. The historical Conboy lakebed is 
believed to have retained water for 10 to 12 months in most years. 
Currently, it retains water only during wet years and is purposefully 
drained annually to control bullfrogs (Ludwig 2012, pers. comm.). The 
Camas Prairie portion of Glenwood Valley retains water year-round over 
a small area and only in wet years. Typically, aquatic habitat is 
reduced to about 1,000 ac (400 ha) during the late summer and early 
fall (Hayes et al. 2000), and once the seasonal lakebeds dry, the 
network of ditches and channels provide the only aquatic habitat for 
Oregon spotted frogs. In order to maintain sufficient flow through the 
system, a small area of Bird Creek must be excavated every 2 to 3 years 
to remove the high level of sand and gravel that is deposited annually 
from upstream. Most of the other ditches have been cleaned on a much 
less frequent basis (intervals of up to 20 years), although in the 
future, the Conboy Lake NWR plans to clean select reaches on a 5-10 
year cycle (Ludwig 2012, pers. comm.).
    Oregon--Historical losses of wetland in Oregon are estimated at 38 
percent between pre-settlement times and the 1980s with 57 and 91 
percent of these losses concentrated in the Willamette Valley and 
Klamath Basin, respectively (Dahl 1990). Wetland loss continues in the 
Willamette Valley (Daggett et al. 1998; Morlan et al. 2005). Between 
1982 and 1994, a net loss of 6,877 ac (2783 ha) of wetlands (2.5 
percent of the 1982 wetland area) occurred, primarily due to conversion 
to agriculture (Daggett et al. 1998 p. 23), and between 1994 and 2005, 
an estimated additional net loss of 3,932 ac (1591 ha) (1.25 percent of 
the 1994 wetland area) took place, primarily due to development (Morlan 
et. al. 2010. pp. 26-27). Oregon spotted frogs are believed to be 
extirpated from the Willamette Valley.
    Human alteration of wetlands in the central Oregon Cascades has 
been a less severe threat since many of the sites inhabited by the 
Oregon spotted frog are located at high elevation and within lakes and 
wetlands located on Federal lands managed by the USFS. However, damming 
and diverting water for irrigation needs has resulted in the loss of 
wetlands within the Upper Deschutes sub-basin beginning in the early 
1900s (see hydrology section below). Wetland loss is also an ongoing 
threat to Oregon spotted frogs within the Little Deschutes River sub-
basin in south Deschutes County, where land development has increased 
since the 1960s.
    A substantial amount of wetland habitat in the Klamath Basin has 
been drained and converted to other uses, primarily for grazing and 
row-crop production, although the extent of this loss is difficult to 
estimate due to a lack of accurate historical data (Larson and Brush 
2010). The majority of wetland degradation and alteration took place in 
the southern part of the upper basin, where extensive drainage occurred 
at Tule and Lower Klamath Lakes in the early 20th Century (Larson and 
Brush 2010, p. 4). Wetlands at the north end of the basin, including 
Sycan Marsh, Klamath Marsh, Upper Klamath Lake, and in the Wood River 
Valley, have also suffered extensive hydrologic alteration. Ongoing 
losses are currently minimized due to strict regulations governing 
wetlands, and there are no known ongoing losses of wetlands in the

[[Page 53594]]

Klamath Basin. In addition, restoration efforts are under way in the 
Klamath Basin (see Conservation Efforts to Reduce Habitat Destruction, 
Modification, or Curtailment of Its Range), reversing wetland losses to 
some degree. However, because of subsidence, reconnection of former 
wetlands to Upper Klamath Lake resulted in these areas being too deep 
to support marsh vegetation and many of these areas do not support the 
variety of wildlife that they did formerly when they were marshes. 
Therefore, these wetlands are unlikely to provide all of their former 
functions.
    Loss of Wetlands Conclusion--Historical loss of wetlands has been 
extensive throughout the range of the species, and is the primary 
reason for the absence of the species from as much as, or more than, 90 
percent of its former range (also see Historical Distribution). Land 
conversions that result in loss of wetlands are continuing throughout 
the range. Wetlands continue to be lost or degraded in at least 10 of 
the 15 occupied sub-basins. Even though these losses are occurring at 
much lower rates than in the past because of Federal and State 
regulations that pertain to wetlands (see Factor D), the ongoing loss 
of wetlands continues to pose a threat to the Oregon spotted frog.
Hydrological Changes
    Changing water levels at critical periods in the Oregon spotted 
frog's life cycle, whether natural or human-induced, has negatively 
affected the species. Lowered water levels have exposed individuals to 
predation by reducing cover and confining them to smaller areas where 
they are more vulnerable to predators (see also Factor C). Water level 
reduction during the breeding season, due to both natural and 
anthropogenic causes, has resulted in the loss of the entire 
reproductive effort for the year due to stranding and desiccation of 
the egg masses in British Columbia (Licht 1971, p. 122; COSFRT 2012, p. 
18), Washington (Lewis et al. 2001, p. 8; Hayes et al. 2000, pp. 6-7), 
and Oregon (Pearl and Hayes 2004, p. 24). Excessive seasonal flooding 
at critical periods has also resulted in the loss of shallow wetlands 
needed for egg-laying and development.
    Most of the currently occupied Oregon spotted frog sites are 
threatened by changes in hydrology. Twenty-one of twenty-eight (75 
percent) sites surveyed in Washington and Oregon have had some human-
related hydrological alterations, ranging from minor changes (for 
example, local ditching around springs) to substantial changes, 
including major modifications of historical flow patterns (Hayes 1997, 
p. 43; Hayes et al. 1997, p. 6). Oregon spotted frogs in four of the 
occupied sub-basins (Lower Fraser River, Middle Klickitat River, Little 
Deschutes River, and Upper Klamath) are experiencing high to very high 
impacts due to ongoing hydrological changes based on the unified 
threats classification system ranking, described above. The altered 
hydrology has affected both breeding and wintering habitat, as 
discussed below.
    Water Diversions/Manipulations--Dams in the upper watersheds of the 
Puget Trough, Willamette Valley, and the Deschutes River have 
significantly reduced the amount of shallow overflow wetland habitat 
that was historically created by natural flooding (Cushman and Pearl 
2007, pp. 16-17). The inundation of large marsh complexes, and habitat 
fragmentation by the construction of reservoirs in the Cascades, has 
also eliminated and degraded Oregon spotted frog habitat. We are not 
aware of proposals for construction of new dams or reservoirs that 
would pose a threat to the existing Oregon spotted frog populations in 
British Columbia, Washington, or Oregon. However, the operation of 
existing dams/diversions/water control structures in Washington and 
Oregon continues to affect populations of Oregon spotted frogs due to 
extreme water fluctuations between and within years. These operations 
inundate and desiccate Oregon spotted frog habitat, while creating and 
maintaining habitat suitable for nonnative predaceous species.
    Water management in the Glenwood Valley, Washington (Middle 
Klickitat River sub-basin), appears to be playing a significant role in 
the decline of the Oregon spotted frog in this sub-basin. Water 
management in this area is complex due to the juxtaposition of 
landowners and water diversion structures. The need to retain water on 
the Conboy Lake NWR for resources, including the Oregon spotted frog, 
conflicts with needs of the intermingled and adjacent private 
landowners who want water drawn down in order to grow reed canarygrass 
for haying or to graze cattle. In addition, water management on the NWR 
is constrained by failing dikes, plugged ditches, undersized culverts, 
and lack of water control structures (USFWS 2012, p. 27). Dewatering by 
Conboy Lake NWR generally begins June 1, but begins as early as April 
on privately held lands, which also results in the dewatering of some 
refuge lands (USFWS 2012, p. 28). The Camas Prairie area of the valley 
is drained annually to facilitate production of hay and grazing 
opportunities (USFWS 2012, p. 28).
    Dewatering breeding areas during the egg stage results in 
desiccation of Oregon spotted frog egg masses. Dewatering during the 
rearing stage results in tadpole mortality if water is not retained 
through metamorphosis. Physical barriers created by the dike system 
hinders young frogs (recently metamorphed) from moving into permanent 
waters, especially when water is drawn down too quickly or a surface 
water connection to permanent water is not retained. Disconnection from 
permanent water occurs in some places in the valley, which results in 
young frogs becoming stranded and dying. In the areas where a 
connection to permanent water is retained and frogs are able to move 
with the water, the frogs become concentrated in smaller areas with 
predators such as fish and bullfrogs or become easy targets for 
terrestrial predators (Engler 2003; 2006, pers. comm.). This issue is 
complex, because the nonnative bullfrog is fairly common on the refuge, 
and studies indicate they can prey heavily on native frog species, 
including Oregon spotted frog.
    Water management can be used as a method to reduce bullfrog tadpole 
survival by drying up seasonal wetlands completely by early fall. 
However, widespread drawdowns for bullfrog tadpole control can conflict 
with the need to provide rearing, movement, and summertime water for 
Oregon spotted frogs (USFWS 2010b, pp. 36, 63, 67). Surveys since 1998 
have documented extensive annual declines in Oregon spotted frog egg 
mass numbers due to early water drawdowns and perennially low water; 
therefore, inadequate water or poorly timed water management activities 
continue to be a threat to Oregon spotted frog that has a significant 
negative impact on recruitment (the addition of young individuals to 
the adult population) and survival in the Middle Klickitat River sub-
basin.
    In the Upper Deschutes River sub-basin in Oregon, regulated water 
releases from Crane Prairie and Wickiup Reservoirs result in extreme 
seasonal fluctuations in stream flows that have affected the amount of 
overwintering and breeding habitat available for Oregon spotted frogs. 
Prior to the construction of Wickiup Dam in 1947, the Deschutes River 
below the current dam site exhibited stable flows averaging 
approximately 730 cubic feet per second (cfs) (20.7 cubic meters per 
second (cms)) and 660 cfs (18.7 cms) during summer and winter, 
respectively (Hardin-Davis 1991). Water storage in

[[Page 53595]]

the reservoirs during winter, water releases in the spring, and water 
diversions for irrigation result in extremely low winter flows (October 
through March) in the Deschutes River below Wickiup Dam of 
approximately 20-30 cfs, 0.6-0.8 cms, and high summer flows (July and 
August) of approximately 1,400 cfs (39.6 cms). Because water releases 
from Wickiup Reservoir typically occur in early to mid-April, potential 
breeding habitats downstream of Wickiup Dam on the mainstem Deschutes 
River may not have sufficient water during the breeding season to 
facilitate frog movement and breeding.
    Currently, Oregon spotted frog breeding is known to occur in only 
three areas downstream of Wickiup Reservoir: Sunriver, Slough Camp, and 
Old Mill Pond (including adjacent Les Schwab Amphitheater marsh on the 
Deschutes River). Oregon spotted frog habitat at Sunriver Resort has 
been managed and maintained by Sunriver Nature Center by using weirs to 
stabilize the water levels from the beginning of the breeding season 
through metamorphosis, which has resulted in a large and fairly stable 
population of Oregon spotted frogs, despite the low river flows during 
the breeding season. Breeding and dispersal of metamorphosing frogs at 
the Slough Camp site is likely affected by the seasonal timing of 
storage and release of water from the reservoir each year. Adults have 
been observed at the inlet to Slough Camp (east side) prior to the flow 
releases from the reservoir in early April, indicating that frogs may 
be staging to access breeding habitat that becomes accessible when 
flows are released for the irrigation season (Higgins 2012, pers. 
comm.). At the onset of the storage season in October, the east side of 
Slough Camp drains rapidly of water, which could result in stranding of 
frogs that have bred and reared in this location. In August 2012, 
Oregon spotted frogs were discovered in a water retention pond at The 
Old Mill District shops in downtown Bend, Oregon. The shallow pond 
holds water year round and is approximately 20 ft (6 m) from the 
Deschutes River channel. The hydrological relationship between the pond 
and flow manipulation within the river has not been determined. 
However, there is an outflow from the pond, and the detection of 
numerous juvenile Oregon spotted frogs in a large marsh on the 
Deschutes River across from the pond at The Old Mill (Bowerman 2012, 
pers. comm.) indicates there is a connection to the river. The impacts 
of regulated river flows to Oregon spotted frogs within the large marsh 
area remain to be evaluated.
    Oregon spotted frog habitat in the Little Deschutes River sub-basin 
in Oregon may also be affected by regulated water management downstream 
of Crescent Lake Dam in Crescent Creek and the Little Deschutes River 
below the confluence with Crescent Creek. Regulated water releases from 
Crescent Lake typically occur in June, just after the breeding season. 
Egg mass stranding has been observed on three separate occasions along 
the Little Deschutes River, downstream of the confluence with Crescent 
Creek, prior to the release of irrigation water (Demmer 2012, pers. 
comm.). Overwintering habitats may be limited when flows from Crescent 
Lake typically cease in October at the onset of the storage season. 
Groundwater may be ameliorating the impacts from the regulated water 
management in Crescent Creek in locations where groundwater discharges 
to the stream (Gannett et al. 2001), but a full analysis has not yet 
been conducted.
    In the Klamath Basin, the Upper Klamath sub-basin populations are 
particularly vulnerable to water diversion and manipulation. Water from 
Hyatt (30 cfs; 0.8 cms) and Howard Prairie Reservoirs (50 cfs; 1.4 cms) 
are diverted to Keene Creek Reservoir (Ferrari 2000, p. 1; Bear Creek 
Watershed Council 2001, p. 139) upstream of Parsnip Lakes (Jackson 
County), known occupied habitat for the Oregon spotted frog. 
Approximately 190 cfs (5.4 cms) of water is diverted from Keene Creek 
Reservoir and used for municipal consumptive and hydroelectric energy 
purposes (BOR 2009 Web site; BOR 2011 Web site). In addition, water 
from Buck Lake (Klamath County) can be manipulated, depending on water 
needs, in such a way that water is moved quickly across the landscape. 
Water flow in the Upper Klamath Lake and Williamson River sub-basins is 
highly manipulated (modified) to improve forage production for cattle 
grazing (see Livestock Grazing Klamath Basin discussion) (NRCS 2010, p. 
60). The water is diverted (removed) after egg masses have been laid, 
but prior to their hatching, thus resulting in both stranding and 
desiccation of upstream egg masses while, at the same time, inundating 
downstream egg masses.
    Development--Other hydrological changes result from the development 
of homes and roads adjacent to wetlands with Oregon spotted frogs. 
Development introduces new impervious surfaces which increase the 
amplitude and frequencies of peak highs and lows in water levels, a 
hydrologic characteristic that has been implicated in reduced amphibian 
species diversity in wetlands in King County, Washington (Richter and 
Azous 1995, p. 308). (See Development section below for further 
discussion).
    Drought--Changes in water levels due to drought, and exacerbated by 
human modification, has caused seasonal loss of habitat and degradation 
of essential shoreline vegetation that has resulted in reduced 
recruitment regionally (Licht 1971, p. 122; Licht 1974, p. 623). In 
1997, Hayes identified 14 of 24 (58 percent) Oregon spotted frog 
breeding locations across the extant range as having a moderate to high 
risk from drought (1997, pp. 43-45). Drought risk was based on the 
potential for a drop in water level that could reduce or eliminate the 
species' habitat. Sites with the greatest risk included those sites 
with low precipitation levels and sites dependent upon surface flow 
rather than flow from springs. Sites with the greatest risk from 
drought are in the Klamath and Deschutes River basins of Oregon (Hayes 
1997, p. 44; Hayes et al. 1997, p. 6). The impact of a drought on an 
Oregon spotted frog population depends on the amount of complex marsh 
habitat at a site, the availability of alternative breeding and rearing 
areas, and the abundance of aquatic predators (Pearl 1999, p. 15).
    Both Hayes (1997, p. 43) and Pearl (1999, pp. 17-18) hypothesized 
that low water conditions will increase the overlap between Oregon 
spotted frogs and nonnative predators, such as brook trout and 
bullfrogs, by concentrating tadpoles and froglets in the only available 
habitat. Such increased overlap is expected to increase predation 
losses of Oregon spotted frogs (Pearl et al. 2004, pp. 17-18). Several 
seasons of low water are expected to cause local population 
extirpations of Oregon spotted frogs, particularly where a small 
isolated population occupies a limited marsh habitat that has a high 
abundance of aquatic predators (Pearl 1999, p. 15). Low water in 
breeding habitat will also expose eggs to increased ultraviolet 
radiation and higher mortality associated with pathogens (Kiesecker et 
al. 2001a, p. 682) (see Factor C Disease section). Since 1960, the 
Klamath Basin has had 8 of the 10 lowest inflows for Upper Klamath Lake 
between 1991 and 2009 (USFWS 2011a, p. 25). This has resulted in poor 
water quality and reduced Oregon spotted frog reproduction due to 
desiccation of egg masses (BLM and USFS multiple data sources). In 
addition, 5 of the 10 sites in the Klamath Basin are vulnerable to 
water

[[Page 53596]]

management practices that are timed such that the seasonal life-history 
needs of the Oregon spotted frog are not met.
    Although the Chemult Ranger District, Fremont-Winema National 
Forest, in Klamath County, Oregon, documented high numbers of egg 
masses at Jack Creek in 1999 and 2000 (335 and 320 respectively) 
(Forbes and Peterson 1999, p. 6), drought conditions impacted the 
Oregon spotted frog populations in subsequent years. The drought 
occurred during the time period in which the Oregon spotted frog 
population dramatically declined at Jack Creek (Gervais 2011, p. 15). 
In 2001, those conditions restricted Oregon spotted frog breeding to 
three small, disjunct areas representing less than 25 percent of their 
typical habitat. Although there were sufficient water depths in the 
breeding pools in 2002, only 17 percent of historical egg mass numbers 
were detected, and 50 percent of the eggs did not hatch compared to the 
68 to 74 percent hatch rates documented by Licht (1974, p 618). The 
impacts of the drought were further complicated when Oregon spotted 
frog habitat was impacted by algal blooms, poor water quality, loss of 
protective habitat, and alteration of the bank condition (USDA 2009a, 
pp. 31, 33-34). By 2011, only 1 percent of historical egg mass numbers 
were documented at this site.
    Loss of Beaver--American beaver (Castor canadensis) create a 
complex mosaic of aquatic habitat types that provides the seasonal 
habitat needs of the Oregon spotted frog. Water impoundments created 
and engineered by beavers result in a water storage reservoir that 
raises the water table, reduces downstream erosion, lessens flood 
events (unless the dam is breached), holds water year round and 
maintains stream flow during dry periods. Specifically, silt-filled 
abandoned ponds become shallow wetlands and beaver meadows, which have 
characteristics ideal for egg-laying. Beaver-maintained ponds retain 
deeper waters important for summer foraging and growth of metamorphosed 
frogs, and these ponds also provide overwintering habitat. When hypoxic 
conditions occur in the wetlands and ponds, the frogs can move to the 
more oxygenated waters of the associated creek, where they use 
microhabitat features created by beavers such as large woody debris and 
bank tunnels (Hallock and Pearson 2001, pp. 9-12; Shovlain 2005, p. 
10).
    Comparisons of beaver-occupied and not occupied watersheds in 
Montana in relation to Columbia spotted frog populations found: (a) 
Beaver watersheds had four times as many lentic and breeding sites than 
non-beaver watersheds; (b) frog breeding sites were dispersed within 
beaver drainages, while non-beaver watersheds often had only one frog 
breeding site; (c) frog breeding sites were evenly distributed across 
the elevational gradient in beaver watersheds, while they were centered 
above the watershed midpoint in non-beaver watersheds; (d) frog 
breeding sites were more dispersed within drainages with evidence of 
beaver presence than would be expected given the configuration of the 
underlying lentic habitat and have persisted despite being separated by 
distances larger than the frog's dispersal ability; (e) beaver 
watersheds with an average distance of less than 5 km between breeding 
sites showed higher levels of connectivity than did non-beaver 
watersheds with an average distance of more than 5 km between breeding 
sites; and (f) short beaver watersheds had lower levels of genetic 
divergence between breeding sites than those in long non-beaver 
watersheds separated by the same distance, even when distances were 
within the commonly observed dispersal ability of the frogs (Amish 
2006, entire). Columbia and Oregon spotted frogs were separated into 
two separate species (Rana pretiosa (Oregon spotted frog) and Rana 
luteiventris (Columbia spotted frog)), based on genetic analysis (Green 
et al. 1996, 1997). They are closely related species and likely evolved 
in a similar way, with beavers playing a vital role in how frogs are 
distributed within a watershed.
    By 1900, beaver had been nearly extirpated in the continental 
United States (Baker and Hill 2003, p. 288). Beavers have made a 
remarkable comeback in many areas through natural recolonization and 
relocation efforts (ODFW 2012, p. 1); however, their role as ecological 
engineers is still severely curtailed region-wide, particularly within 
human-populated areas, because they are often considered a pest species 
because they can flood roads and property and destroy trees that are 
valued by landowners (Baker and Hill 2003, p. 301). In at least one 
site, a significant Oregon spotted frog decline was attributed to the 
removal of a series of beaver dams that resulted in water loss within 
some of the breeding areas leading to high embryo mortality attributed 
to stranding (Hayes et al. 2000, p. 2). In Trout Lake Creek in 
Washington, the loss of a beaver dam to a natural flood event resulted 
in a significant decline (117 egg masses in 2001 to 0 in 2012) in 
Oregon spotted frog reproduction (Hallock 2012, p. 33). Lack of beavers 
within a watershed has been determined by USFS and BLM to be a threat 
to maintenance of Oregon spotted frog habitat, and these agencies have 
identified the Williamson, Upper Klamath Lake, and Upper Klamath sub-
basins for reintroduction of beaver.
    The States of Washington and Oregon allow lethal removal of beavers 
and their dams. Under Washington State law, the beaver is classified as 
a furbearer (WAC 232-12-007). The owner, the owner's immediate family, 
an employee, or a tenant of property may shoot or trap a beaver on that 
property if a threat to crops exists (RCW 77.36.030). In such cases, no 
special trapping permit is necessary for the use of live traps. 
However, a special trapping permit is required for the use of all traps 
other than live traps (RCW 77.15.192, 77.15.194; WAC 232-12-142). It is 
unlawful to release a beaver anywhere within Washington, other than on 
the property where it was legally trapped, without a permit to do so 
(RCW 77.15.250; WAC 232-12-271). To remove or modify a beaver dam, one 
must have a Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA)--a permit issued by WDFW 
for work that will use, obstruct, change, or divert the bed or flow of 
State waters (RCW 77.55). Beavers are present to a varying degree 
within all Oregon spotted frog occupied sub-basins in Washington and 
are maintaining breeding habitats in some areas within the S.F. 
Nooksack River, Black River, White Salmon River, and Middle Klickitat 
River sub-basins. Active removal of beavers or their dams is occurring 
in at least the S.F. Nooksack River, Black River, and Middle Klickitat 
River sub-basins and may be occurring in the other occupied sub-basins 
in Washington.
    Beavers on public lands in Oregon are classified as Protected 
Furbearers by Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 496.004 and Oregon 
Administrative Rule (OAR) 635-050-0050. A trapping license and open 
season are required to trap beavers on public lands. Beavers on private 
lands are defined as a Predatory Animal (ORS 610.002) and private 
landowners or their agents may lethally remove beavers without a permit 
from ODFW. Currently, the presence of beavers results in active 
maintenance of Oregon spotted frog habitat in the Little Deschutes 
River, Upper Deschutes River, Middle Fork Willamette River, Williamson 
River, and Upper Klamath Lake sub-basins. Active removal of beavers and 
their dams can occur in the Oregon spotted frog habitat in all of these 
occupied sub-basins in Oregon. Under State laws in both Washington and 
Oregon, it is lawful to kill beavers

[[Page 53597]]

or to remove or modify beaver dams, and those lawful actions reduce or 
degrade wetland habitats used by all life stages of Oregon spotted 
frogs.
    Hydrologic Changes Conclusion--A variety of factors affecting the 
hydrology of wetlands and riverine systems cause the loss or 
detrimental modification of habitats necessary for the survival and 
reproduction of Oregon spotted frogs. Within 11 of the 15 sub-basins 
occupied by the species, water diversions/manipulations, development, 
drought, and loss of beavers are resulting in hydrological changes that 
pose a threat to all life stages of the Oregon spotted frog, including 
loss of or disconnections between breeding, rearing, and overwintering 
habitat, as well as desiccation or flooding of egg masses. The impact 
to Oregon spotted frogs of these hydrological changes has been 
determined--based on our unified threats classification system 
(Rangewide Threats Synthesis)--to be moderate to very high in five of 
the occupied sub-basins: Middle Klickitat River, Upper Deschutes River, 
Little Deschutes River, Williamson River, and Upper Klamath.
Changes in Vegetation
    Oregon spotted frog egg-laying sites are generally characterized by 
low vegetation canopy coverage and a substrate at least partially 
covered with the previous year's emergent herbaceous vegetation 
(Leonard 1997, p. 3; Hayes et al. 2000, p. 8; Pearl and Bury 2000, p. 
6; Pearl 1999, p. 15). Egg masses are generally found in shallow water 
over vegetation and are rarely found above open soil or rocky 
substrates (Hayes et al. 2000, p. 8, Pearl and Bury 2000, p. 8). Watson 
et al. (2003, p. 296) found that habitat selection by Oregon spotted 
frogs during the breeding season was strongly correlated with sedge 
habitat in Washington. In Oregon, Pearl et al. (2009a, p.141) found the 
dominant vegetation at egg-laying areas to be sedge-rush habitat.
    Loss of natural wetland and riverine disturbance processes as a 
result of human activities has and continues to result in degradation 
of Oregon spotted frog habitat. Historically, a number of natural 
forces created early successional wetlands favorable to Oregon spotted 
frogs. These forces included rivers meandering over their floodplains, 
removing trees and shrubs and baring patches of mineral soil; beavers 
felling trees and woody shrubs, trampling vegetation, and dragging 
limbs and logs through shallows; and summer fires burning areas that 
would be shallow water wetlands during the Oregon spotted frog breeding 
season the following spring. Today, all of these forces are greatly 
reduced, impaired, or have been permanently altered as a result of 
human activities. In addition, the current wetland management paradigm 
is generally a no-management approach that often results in continued 
invasion by invasive plants or succession to a tree- and shrub-
dominated community, both of which are unsuitable for Oregon spotted 
frog breeding.
    Invasive plants such as reed canarygrass may completely change the 
structure of wetland environments, and can create dense areas of 
vegetation unsuitable as Oregon spotted frog habitat (McAllister and 
Leonard 1997, p. 23). Reed canarygrass competitively excludes other 
native plant species and limits the biological and habitat diversity of 
host wetland and riparian habitats (Antieau 1998, p. 2). Reed 
canarygrass also removes large quantities of water through 
evapotranspiration, potentially affecting shallow groundwater 
hydrologic characteristics (Antieau 1998, p. 2). Reed canarygrass 
dominates large areas of Oregon spotted frog habitat at lower 
elevations (Hayes 1997, p. 44; Hayes et al. 1997, p. 6) and is 
broadening its range to high-elevation (i.e., above 4,500 feet (>1,371 
m)) Oregon spotted frog habitat in the Little Deschutes and Upper 
Deschutes River sub-basins in Oregon (USDA 2008, USDA 2009b; USDA 
2009c; and USDA 2011b). Watson et al. (2003, p. 296) compared the types 
and amount of habitat used by Oregon spotted frogs and found the frogs 
used areas of reed canarygrass less frequently than other habitats 
based on availability. Given this apparent avoidance of reed 
canarygrass, vegetation shifts to reed canarygrass dominance in 
wetlands occupied by Oregon spotted frogs are likely affecting Oregon 
spotted frog breeding behavior.
    Studies conducted in Washington (White 2002, pp. 45-46; Pearl and 
Hayes 2004, pp. 22-23) demonstrated that the quality of breeding 
habitats for Oregon spotted frogs is improved by reducing the height of 
the previous years' emergent vegetation (i.e., reed canarygrass in 
these cases). However, improvement in breeding habitat for Oregon 
spotted frogs was retained only if vegetation management was 
maintained. For example, in all occupied sub-basins in Washington and 
in the Klamath subbasin in Oregon, an indirect effect of the removal of 
cattle grazing has been the reduction in the amount and quality of 
breeding and rearing habitat due to encroachment by vegetation, such as 
reed canarygrass and shrubs. The effects of grazing vary among sites 
and likely depend on a suite of factors including, but not limited to, 
timing, intensity, duration, and how these factors interact with 
seasonal habitat use patterns of Oregon spotted frog.
    Reed canarygrass is present at three of the British Columbia 
breeding areas and is the dominant vegetation at most of the breeding 
areas in Washington. In Oregon, reed canarygrass is colonizing portions 
of Big Marsh and Little Lava Lake, both of which are headwaters to the 
Little Deschutes and Upper Deschutes River sub-basins, respectively. 
Reed canarygrass also is present in Oregon spotted frog habitat at Lava 
Lake, Davis Lake, Wickiup Reservoir, multiple sites along the Little 
Deschutes River (i.e., 7 out of 13 surveyed sites), Slough Camp, Wood 
River Wetland, the Klamath Marsh NWR, Fourmile Creek, and the 
Williamson River. The impact to Oregon spotted frogs due to habitat 
loss from reed canarygrass invasion has been determined through our 
threat analyses to be high to very high in seven sub-basins: Lower 
Fraser River in British Columbia and all sub-basins in Washington. The 
threat to Oregon spotted frog habitat from reed canarygrass is 
considered to be moderate in two sub-basins in Oregon: Little Deschutes 
River and Upper Deschutes River.
    Vegetation succession was indicated as a negative factor at almost 
all remaining Oregon spotted frog sites analyzed by Hayes, who noted 
that some sites were particularly vulnerable to habitat loss where 
marsh-to-meadow changes were occurring (Hayes 1997, p. 45). Pearl 
(1999, p. 15) suggested that the aquatic habitat types necessary for 
Oregon spotted frog reproductive sites in lake basins exist only within 
a narrow successional window. As marsh size decreases due to plant 
succession, shallow warm water sites required by Oregon spotted frogs 
are lost to increased shading by woody vegetation (Pearl 1999, pp. 15-
16). Investigations by Hayes (1997, p. 45) and Pearl (1999, p. 16) 
ranked 22 of 28 Oregon spotted frog sites as having a moderate or high 
threat from vegetation succession. Encroachment around and into marshes 
by lodgepole pine and other woody vegetation is occurring at Conboy 
Lake in Washington (Ludwig 2011, p. 3) and at multiple breeding 
locations in Oregon, and is likely facilitated by ditching and draining 
of wetter sites to improve grazing (Cushman and Pearl 2007, p. 17). The 
highest impact to Oregon spotted frogs resulting from lodgepole pine 
encroachment is taking place in the Upper Deschutes River sub-basin and 
in the upper elevations of the

[[Page 53598]]

Little Deschutes River sub-basin in Oregon, where these breeding 
habitats (i.e., those within the riparian lodgepole plant association 
group), evolved with fire as a natural disturbance process. The loss of 
natural fire cycles in forests of the eastern Cascade Mountains due to 
suppression on National Forest land since 1910 (Agee 1993, p. 58) has 
allowed succession to continue without disturbance. Plot data suggest 
that historical fire return intervals for riparian lodgepole pine 
vegetation types in central Oregon ranged 12-36 years and averaged 24 
years (Simpson 2007, p. 9-6), indicating that this disturbance process 
was more frequent historically in this forest type.
    The United States Department of Agriculture's National Resources 
Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency have several 
voluntary programs, including the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP), CREP, 
and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP). The WRP and CREP are 
voluntary programs designed to help landowners address concerns 
regarding the use of natural resources and promote landowner 
conservation. Under the WRP, landowners enter into a voluntary 
agreement with NRCS to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their 
property. Various enrollment options are available to landowners, 
including Permanent Easements, 30-Year Easements, Restoration Cost-
Share Agreements, or 30-Year Contracts (USDA NRCS 2013). Under the 
CREP, the Farm Service Agency provides payments to landowners who sign 
a contract committing to keeping lands out of agricultural production 
for a period of 10 to 15 years. NRCS produces technical guidelines 
generally aimed at improving soil conditions, agricultural 
productivity, and water quality, which generally do not result in 
specific conservation measures for the protection of the Oregon spotted 
frog. Rather, restoration actions funded or carried out by NRCS include 
planting trees and shrubs in riparian areas.
    These activities have had unforeseen consequences to Oregon spotted 
frog habitat by degrading breeding habitat because, as discussed above, 
tree- and shrub-dominated communities are unsuitable for Oregon spotted 
frog breeding. This is known to have occurred within the last 10 years 
at breeding locations in Black, Samish, and South Fork Nooksack Rivers 
in Washington (USFWS Nisqually NWR; Bohannon et al. 2012) and may be 
happening elsewhere. Currently, one known occupied private land parcel 
has entered into a WRP agreement in the Klamath Basin in Oregon. The 
WRP agreement for this particular parcel allows no grazing in 
perpetuity, which in the long term, may result in reduced quality of 
Oregon spotted frog habitat. We are aware of at least one CREP contract 
in the South Fork Nooksack River sub-basin that resulted in conifer 
tree plantings in Oregon spotted frog breeding locations which resulted 
in the wetted areas becoming drier and mostly shaded. The Service has 
had preliminary discussions with NRCS and is working with the agency to 
address this management issue.
    Changes in vegetation conclusion--Expansion of reed canarygrass 
into Oregon spotted frog habitat poses a threat to the continued 
existence of these habitats given the invasive nature of the plant and 
its ability to outcompete native vegetation in wetland habitats. 
Shallow water wetlands inhabited by Oregon spotted frog are threatened 
through rapid encroachment of the grass and increased 
evapotranspiration of water. Loss of habitat at breeding sites due to 
reed canarygrass is high to very high in seven occupied sub-basins in 
British Columbia and Washington. Reed canarygrass poses a threat in the 
Little Deschutes and Upper Deschutes River sub-basins in Oregon, and is 
present at varying abundances in many locations occupied by Oregon 
spotted frog.
    Vegetation succession, particularly where natural disturbance 
processes are lacking, is a negative factor at almost all Oregon 
spotted frog sites. Structural changes to vegetation that occur through 
succession, whether from native or nonnative grasses, shrubs, or trees, 
results in decreased wetland size and amount of open water area 
available to frogs. Furthermore, shrub and tree encroachment increases 
shading of shallow warm water sites required by Oregon spotted frogs 
for breeding and rearing. Encroachment by lodgepole pine and other 
woody vegetation is occurring at multiple breeding locations in 
Washington and Oregon and is considered a threat in at least seven sub-
basins: Lower Deschutes River, Upper Deschutes River, McKenzie River, 
Middle Fork Willamette River, Williamson River, Upper Klamath Lake, and 
Upper Klamath. Unintended loss of habitat is taking place as a result 
of riparian restoration activities that remove grazing and plant shrubs 
and trees within sub-basins occupied by Oregon spotted frogs in 
Washington and Oregon. Therefore, based on the best scientific 
information available, changes in vegetation pose a threat to Oregon 
spotted frogs throughout the range of the species.
Development
    Removal or alteration of natural riparian vegetation around 
watercourses or wetlands for urban or agricultural development 
compromises aquatic ecosystem function via reductions in biodiversity 
and water quality and quantity. Residential and commercial encroachment 
often destroy or disturb natural vegetation, alter water flows and 
seasonal flooding, or result in the loss of entire wetland complexes. 
Agricultural practices, including grazing, can result in the rapid 
removal of water across the landscape for stimulation of early grass 
production. All of these factors have been shown to reduce the survival 
and reproductive capacity of Oregon spotted frogs, as discussed 
previously.
    Although the historical impact of development has significantly 
reduced the abundance and geographic distributions of Oregon spotted 
frogs (for example, the Fraser River Valley in British Columbia, Puget 
Trough in Washington, and Willamette Valley in Oregon), development is 
currently an ongoing threat at only a few specific locations. In 
British Columbia, housing and residential developments continue to 
remove or alter habitat at Mountain and Maria Sloughs, and there are 
new commercial developments at Mountain Slough (COSFRT 2012, p. 26).
    In Washington, some counties prohibit draining of wetlands and some 
counties require setbacks from wetlands (see Factor D for further 
information), but this is not consistent, nor consistently implemented. 
In addition, a large proportion of the breeding areas for Oregon 
spotted frogs in Washington are not technically classified as a wetland 
under the county definitions because these areas are seasonally flooded 
pastures. The private lands surrounding breeding areas for Oregon 
spotted frog in most of the occupied sub-basins are presently zoned as 
rural or rural residential, which is designed only to allow low-density 
housing and maintain the rural and agricultural uses. However, the 
human populations of all counties in the Puget Sound area are growing 
and Thurston, Whatcom, and Skagit Counties have the 6th, 9th, and 10th 
largest populations, respectively, among Washington State's 39 counties 
(U.S. Census Bureau data downloaded August 29, 2012). Between 1990 and 
2011, the populations in these three counties have doubled. This 
population increase is expected to continue, resulting in new 
residential and commercial developments that will alter vegetation, 
water flow, and the seasonal

[[Page 53599]]

flooding that creates and maintains habitat for Oregon spotted frogs.
    Development of land along the Little Deschutes River and its 
tributaries in Oregon is a continued threat to Oregon spotted frogs. 
The rural character of the Little Deschutes River watershed, the 
attractive location of private property on the Little Deschutes River, 
and relatively inexpensive land prices have contributed to a rapidly 
growing population (UDWC 2002, p. 12). In the 1960s and 1970s before 
Oregon statewide planning regulated growth and development, 15,000 one- 
and two-acre lots were created in subdivisions in the vicinity of the 
Little Deschutes River. Since 1989, Deschutes County has been the 
fastest growing county in Oregon on a percentage basis. The 
unincorporated areas of Deschutes County, including the lower portions 
of the Little Deschutes River, are projected to increase in population 
size by as much as 56 percent above the 2000 level over the next 20 
years (UDWC 2002, p. 12). This rapid population growth rate is expected 
to continue into the future (UDWC 2002, p. 12), thereby increasing 
risks to wetland habitats that support Oregon spotted frogs in the 
vicinity of the Little Deschutes River.
    Development in the Klamath Basin is also increasing in Oregon. The 
population of Klamath County increased 10.5 percent from 1990 to 2000 
(U.S. Census Bureau 2008) and annual housing starts have increased by 
13 percent since 2000 (Portland State University 2011 Web site). Much 
of the growth is outside of city boundaries, and several large 
residential developments are within or adjacent to wetlands that 
historically had the ability to support Oregon spotted frog habitat. In 
addition, agricultural practices, including grazing, occur extensively 
within all three occupied sub-basins. This has the potential to result 
in the desiccation or inundation of Oregon spotted frog habitat (See 
Livestock Grazing Klamath Basin discussion). While it is unknown to 
what extent urban development has impacted Oregon spotted frog habitat, 
agricultural development is ongoing and continues to impact Oregon 
spotted frog habitat.
    Development conclusion--Development of residential, commercial, and 
agricultural properties is continuing in at least 10 of the sub-basins 
occupied by the Oregon spotted frog. In some areas, the human 
population is expected to continue to grow. Development activities 
directly and indirectly have removed or altered habitat necessary to 
support all life stages of Oregon spotted frogs. Therefore, we consider 
development--both at the present time and in the future--to be a threat 
to Oregon spotted frogs.
Livestock Grazing
    In several riparian zones and wetland complexes in British 
Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, livestock grazing occurs within 
Oregon spotted frog habitat, although its effects vary with the site 
conditions, livestock numbers, timing, and intensity. Livestock 
(primarily horses and cows) can cause direct mortality by trampling 
adult frogs (Ross et al. 1999, p. 163) and egg masses when livestock 
are allowed in shallow water habitat when frogs are present. Livestock 
graze and trample emergent and riparian vegetation, compact soil in 
riparian and upland areas, and reduce bank stability, which results in 
increased sedimentation and water pollution via urine and feces (Hayes 
1997, p. 44; Hayes 1998b, p. 8; 61 FR 25813). The resulting increases 
in temperature and sediment production, alterations to stream 
morphology, effects on prey organisms, and changes in water quality 
negatively affect Oregon spotted frog habitat. Livestock also act as 
vectors for the introduction of weed seeds that alter riparian 
vegetation characteristics (Belsky and Gelbard 2000, p. 9), and they 
are a source of introduced parasites and pathogens (See Factor C).
    Fourteen of twenty-eight (50 percent) sites surveyed in British 
Columbia, Washington, and Oregon were directly or indirectly influenced 
(negatively and positively) by livestock grazing (Hayes 1997, p. 44; 
Hayes et al. 1997, p. 6; Pearl 1999, p. 16). Severe habitat 
modification has been caused by cattle at several Oregon spotted frog 
localities in Oregon. Large numbers of cattle at a site negatively 
affect habitat for Oregon spotted frogs, particularly at springs used 
by frogs as overwintering sites (Hayes 1997, p. 44). The most recent 
work monitoring the effects of livestock grazing on Oregon spotted 
frogs involved grazed and ungrazed treatments at Jack Creek on the 
Fremont Winema National Forests in Oregon (Shovlain 2005 entire). 
Shovlain's (2005, p. 11) work suggested that livestock grazing 
displaced Oregon spotted frogs to ungrazed exclosures as grazing 
pressure outside the enclosures increased. Livestock trampling and 
consumption likely affects the microhabitat preferred by Oregon spotted 
frogs by reducing emergent and riparian vegetation, which could explain 
Shovlain's findings. However, the frogs in Shovlain's study did not 
show a preference for exclosures or controls under lower grazing 
pressure. Therefore, a moderate degree of grazing does not appear to 
affect frog behavior, suggesting an intermediate level of disturbance 
may be conducive to Oregon spotted frog habitat use (Hayes et al. 1997, 
p. 6, Hayes 1998b, pp. 8-9, McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 25, Watson 
et al. 2003, p. 299).
    Moderate livestock grazing can, in some instances (for example, 
Dempsey Creek in Washington), benefit Oregon spotted frogs by 
maintaining openings in the vegetation in highly altered wetland 
communities (Hayes 1997, p. 44; Hayes et al. 1997, p. 6; McAllister and 
Leonard 1997, p. 25). Watson et al. (2003, p. 299) found that habitat 
at 78 percent of the Oregon spotted frog locations surveyed at the 
Dempsey Creek site had signs of grazing, which created penetrable, open 
habitat that was otherwise too dense for frog use.
    British Columbia--Only one known breeding location (Morris Valley) 
in the Lower Fraser River sub-basin is grazed (by horses) (COSEWIC 
2011, p. 33), and grazing is identified as a specific concern for 
Oregon spotted frogs at this location because of the potential for 
trampling of egg masses, bank erosion, and input of feces (COSEWIC 
2011, p. 33).
    Washington--In the recent past, it appears that grazing was 
beneficial to Oregon spotted frogs at all remaining breeding areas in 
Washington; however, grazing no longer occurs in the breeding areas in 
four of the six sub-basins due to land manager preferences and/or water 
quality regulations that prohibit grazing within certain distances from 
rivers and wetlands. Active management is required to maintain the 
Oregon spotted frog habitat at these locations due to heavy reed 
canarygrass infestations, but funding is limited and grazing had been 
the least expensive/easiest management option. In the Black River, 
grazing ceased along Dempsey Creek when the privately owned dairy 
operation was sold. Cows were reintroduced to the Port Blakely Tree 
Farm and Musgrove (Nisqually NWR) parcels in 2008 (USFWS 2011b) as part 
of a reed canarygrass control experiment; however, Oregon spotted frog 
egg mass numbers have not increased as was expected (WDFW 2011 
database; USFWS 2011b). Grazing occurs at the only known breeding 
location in the Lower Chilliwack River sub-basin. This site has likely 
persisted as a result of dairy cows maintaining the site in a state of 
early seral habitat (Bohannon et al. 2012, p. 17).
    Oregon--Overgrazing of the Camas Prairie in Oregon was considered a 
threat to Oregon spotted frog prior to 2008, after which grazing was 
restricted (Corkran 2012). Overgrazing by cattle

[[Page 53600]]

reduced the vegetative hiding cover for frogs, making them more 
susceptible to predation. Livestock-induced fertilization resulted in 
an increased density of the aquatic vegetation, which inhibited the 
ability of frogs to drop below the water's surface when threatened by 
predation while basking (C. Corkran pers. comm. 2012). However, grazing 
may be considered as a management tool to maintain early seral habitat 
for Oregon spotted frogs in the future if necessary (C. Corkran pers. 
comm. 2012).
    None of the central Oregon Cascade breeding locations within the 
Deschutes and Willamette National Forests are within grazing 
allotments. Known breeding locations occur within allotments on the 
U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Prineville District lands along 
Crescent Creek, Long Prairie Creek, and the Little Deschutes River. 
Currently, only the Crescent Creek area is affected by active grazing 
on BLM lands, although there is potential for grazing to occur on BLM 
lands along the Little Deschutes River. Grazing has been cited as an 
impact to riparian and wetland habitats on private lands along the 
Little Deschutes River (The Wetlands Conservancy, 2004, p. 22). Wetland 
habitats in the Little Deschutes River sub-basin have been negatively 
impacted by grazing through removal of riparian vegetation, which 
destabilizes banks and increases channel incision, resulting in less 
water retention in riparian wetlands and conifer encroachment (UDWC 
2002, pp. 21 and 53).
    Six sites in the Klamath Basin are associated with grazing: Jack 
Creek, Buck Lake, Parsnip Lakes, and on private lands on the Wood 
River, Williamson River, and adjacent to Klamath Marsh NWR. These sites 
are potentially vulnerable to both the direct impacts of grazing 
sedimentation, trampling, as well as the indirect effect of egg mass 
desiccation resulting from water management techniques that drain water 
early in frog breeding season to stimulate grass production. Livestock 
grazing is cited as a specific concern for Oregon spotted frogs at Jack 
Creek, Fremont-Winema National Forest, Chemult Ranger District, in 
Oregon (USDA 2004, pp. 56-57). Since 1999, the population has reduced 
from 670 breeding adults (335 egg masses) to 34 breeding adults (17 egg 
masses) in 2011. The two primary breeding sites in Jack Creek occur on 
private land that is heavily grazed in combination with USFS 
allotments. This intensity of grazing is expected to have degraded the 
quality of the Oregon spotted frog breeding habitat and reduced 
reproduction (Shovlain 2005).
    Since 2008, current USFS management at the Jack Creek site has not 
permitted cattle grazing on lands occupied by Oregon spotted frogs 
(Markus 2012, pers. comm.). However, 419 cow/calf pairs specifically 
permitted for grazing have access to 61 acres (25 ha) of potential, but 
not currently supporting, Oregon spotted frog habitat on this 68,349 ac 
(27,660 ha) combination of USFS and private pasture. Within this 
pasture, however, there are several riparian areas accessible to 
grazing cattle as well as one offsite watering source installed on 
adjacent private land. The permittee for this pasture has grazed their 
private lands where Oregon spotted frogs are known to occur, although 
the number of cattle and timing are not known. However, the permittee 
has also partnered with the USFWS to complete multiple conservation 
actions to benefit Oregon spotted frogs and their habitats on their 
private lands including--but not limited to--the installation of 2 to 3 
offsite watering sources, protection of frog ponds, thinning of 
encroaching lodgepole pine trees, and installation of a wattle for 
water retention (Markus 2012, pers. comm.).
    Conflicts between cattle and frogs increase when stream flows are 
limited, especially when cattle are using the creek for drinking 
(Gervais 2011, p. 15). Between 2001 and 2005, and again in 2007, 
drought conditions affected habitat for Oregon spotted frogs in the 
Chemult Ranger District, Fremont-Winema National Forest in Oregon. 
However, until 2008 when grazing was restricted, 419 cow/calf pairs had 
access to the habitat areas associated with Oregon spotted frogs 
(Gervais 2011, p. 11). Cattle were observed congregating in Oregon 
spotted frog habitat because nearly every other water source in the 
allotment went dry (Simpson 2002, pers. comm.). Trampling of frogs by 
cattle and alterations in water quality, bank structure, and loss of 
protective vegetation compounded the impacts of the reduction of 
available habitat due to drought conditions on Oregon spotted frog 
reproduction (USDA 2009a, pp. 31, 33-34).
    Livestock Grazing Conclusion--Where livestock grazing coincides 
with Oregon spotted frog habitat, impacts to the species include 
trampling of frogs and changes in habitat quality due to increased 
sedimentation, increased water temperatures, water management 
techniques, and reduced water quality. The effects of livestock grazing 
vary with site conditions, livestock numbers, and timing and intensity 
of grazing. In Washington, all of the known occupied areas have been 
grazed in the recent past, but where grazing has been removed, heavy 
infestations by invasive reed canarygrass have reduced or eliminated 
habitat for Oregon spotted frogs unless other management techniques 
were applied. In controlled circumstances, moderate grazing can be 
beneficial if it is the only practical method for controlling invasive, 
nonnative vegetation and sustaining early seral stage vegetation needed 
for egg laying. Grazing is ongoing in 10 of the occupied sub-basins and 
is considered to be a threat to Oregon spotted frogs at these 
locations.
Conservation Efforts to Reduce Habitat Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Range
    British Columbia--Past and ongoing habitat conservation activities 
in British Columbia include habitat creation at MD Aldergrove, Maria 
Slough, and Mountain Slough; habitat rehabilitation at Maria and 
Mountain Sloughs; and invasive grass species management at MD 
Aldergrove, Maria Slough, and Mountain Slough. There is also a 
landowner stewardship contact program that encourages stewardship 
activities at Mountain Slough. However, the Service concluded that 
these measures are not sufficient to ameliorate threats to Oregon 
spotted frogs in the Lower Fraser River.
    Washington--In Washington, some reed canarygrass management is 
taking place at most of the breeding locations in the Black River, on 
the Trout Lake NAP, and at Conboy Lake NWR. These management techniques 
include mowing, burning, cattle grazing, and shade cloth. However, 
these management techniques are not widespread at any one location or 
adequate to prevent loss of egg-laying habitat.
    Conboy Lake NWR in Washington has completed several wetland 
restoration projects to restore natural hydrological processes to 
portions of the refuge. This enabled the NWR to maintain independent 
water management of several wetlands, regardless of the water-related 
impacts of local landowners. However, under current management, water 
is not retained throughout the year on most of the NWR and adjacent 
private wetlands, and many of these areas that had Oregon spotted frogs 
in the late 1990s no longer have Oregon spotted frogs.
    Cattle grazing ceased at Trout Lake NAP in Washington after a 
monitoring study showed no apparent positive effect on the Oregon 
spotted frog population trends (Wilderman and

[[Page 53601]]

Hallock 2004, p. 10), indicating that either grazing was not an 
effective tool for reed canarygrass management at this location, or 
that perhaps reed canarygrass was not as threatening to breeding frogs 
at this location as previously thought. This may be because winter snow 
pack compresses the reed canarygrass, leaving none of the previous 
season's vertical stems available to Oregon spotted frogs during the 
breeding season. The observed negative consequences of grazing, while 
perhaps acceptable if there was clear benefit to the Oregon spotted 
frog populations, were not compatible with other site management goals 
and posed a limitation to future restoration on the site (Wilderman and 
Hallock 2004, p. 14). Instead, problematic areas of reed canarygrass 
are being managed using ground barriers and occasional fall mowing 
(Hallock 2012, p. 31).
    Under the Washington State Forest Practices Act, WDNR must approve 
certain activities related to growing, harvesting, or processing timber 
on all local government, State, and privately owned forest lands. 
WDNR's mission is to protect public resources while maintaining a 
viable timber industry. The primary goal of the forest practices rules 
is to achieve protection of water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, 
and capital improvements while ensuring that harvested areas are 
reforested. Presently, the Washington State Forest Practices Rules do 
not specifically protect Oregon spotted frogs; however, they do include 
protection measures for surface waters and wetlands. The intent of the 
protection measures, such as buffers on wetlands, is to limit excess 
coarse and fine sediment delivery and to maintain hydrologic regimes. 
Tree harvest is limited in wetland buffers, which may in turn 
facilitate vegetation encroachment. Landowners have the option to 
develop a management plan for the species if it resides on their 
property, or if landowners choose not to develop a management plan for 
the species with WDFW, their forest practices application will be 
conditioned to protect this public resource. While the Washington State 
Forest Practices Rules provide some protections for the Oregon spotted 
frog and its habitat, the direct and indirect consequences of limiting 
tree harvest within the wetland buffer is vegetation encroachment that 
is resulting in loss of wetlands (i.e., reduced size) and shading.
    USDA NRCS is overseeing the restoration at two Samish River 
locations and is incorporating Oregon spotted frog breeding habitat 
requirements into its planned restoration (that originally included de-
leveling and tree and shrub plantings in the breeding areas) (Bohannan 
et al. 2012, p. 17).
    Oregon--In Oregon, several conservation actions have been and 
continue to be implemented for Oregon spotted frogs in the Deschutes 
River Basin. Sunriver Nature Center has been monitoring the frog 
population at the Sunriver Resort since 2000. Although this area is 
affected by the fluctuating flows out of Wickiup Reservoir, Sunriver 
Nature Center has constructed weirs that allow the water level to be 
steady or rising from the time of egg-laying through hatching, thus 
assisting the persistence of this large and stable population. The 
Deschutes National Forest has closed perimeter ditches at Big Marsh, 
where past drainage and grazing had led to degradation of the marsh. 
The Mt. Hood National Forest has fenced sections of Camas Prairie and 
restricted excessive grazing of the meadow. Implementation of these 
conservation actions is assumed to have resulted in increased breeding 
success of Oregon spotted frogs at these locations. In addition, BLM's 
Prineville District Office recently completed encroachment removal 
projects and repairs to headcuts in systems that have had historically 
or currently have Oregon spotted frogs. Headcutting is a process of 
active erosion in a channel caused by an abrupt change in slope. 
Turbulence in the water undercuts substrate material resulting in 
collapse of the upper level. This under-cut-collapse process advances 
up the stream channel. The results of BLM's efforts are unknown at this 
time; however, they were completed specifically to ameliorate threats 
to Oregon spotted frog habitat.
    Since 1994, in the Oregon portion of the Klamath Basin, the 
Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, in collaboration with 
private landowners, has restored approximately 8,832 ac (3,568 ha) of 
wetlands adjacent to Upper Klamath Lake. Several habitat restoration 
projects are under way in known occupied areas including Crane Creek, 
Sevenmile Creek, Jack Creek, and the Upper Williamson River. 
Restoration projects include re-channelizing creeks and rivers to 
provide breeding and rearing habitat, construction of breeding ponds, 
construction of riparian fences to exclude cattle, and the installation 
of alternate water sources. To date, Oregon spotted frogs have been 
detected in only one restored, previously unoccupied wetland area, 
although survey efforts in restored habitats have not yet been 
completed.
    The BLM's Klamath Falls Field Office has initiated several habitat 
restoration projects within their Wood River Wetland property, 
including installation of water control structures, construction of 
breeding ponds, and canal restructuring for additional breeding areas. 
To date, 3,000 ac (1,214 ha) of wetland habitats associated with the 
Wood River Canal have been restored. However, for reasons unknown, 
Oregon spotted frogs have not been detected in the restored wetlands, 
but rather, have only been associated with the canal system (BLM 
multiple data sources). BLM actively manages the water in the canal 
during the breeding season to prevent stranding and inundating Oregon 
spotted frog egg masses.
    The Fremont-Winema National Forest, Chemult Ranger District, in the 
Oregon portion of the Klamath Basin has initiated a project to restore 
habitat along Jack Creek, which as of 2008, includes the removal of 
cattle from a portion of the lands owned by the USFS (Gervais 2011 p. 
9). In addition, encroaching lodgepole pine (Gervais 2011 pp. 11-12) 
has been thinned on both USFS and private lands as a result of this 
project. In cooperation with adjacent private landowners, the USFS 
recently released seven beavers into the Jack Creek watershed (Simpson 
2012, pers. comm.), which is intended to increase the open water and 
breeding habitat for Oregon spotted frogs. One of the private 
landowners has also installed log fences to protect three Oregon 
spotted frog pools, and two off-stream water sources to exclude cattle 
from riparian areas, and wattle installment (a fabrication of poles 
interwoven with slender branches) for water retention (Markus 2012, 
pers. comm.). In addition, in 2009, the USFS installed fences at Buck 
Meadow to control grazing on the USFS lands (Lerum 2012, p. 18). The 
long-term benefits of the USFS efforts are unknown at this time; 
however, these actions were completed to specifically ameliorate 
threats to the Oregon spotted frog's habitat.
    The USFS has completed and continues to work on Oregon spotted frog 
Site Management Plans that identify threats and management actions to 
reduce threats at each of the following sites: Sevenmile, Jack Creek, 
Buck Lake, Dilman Meadow, Hosmer Lake, Lava and Little Lava Lake, Big 
Marsh, Odell/Davis Lake, Little Cultus Lake, Mink Lake Basin and Gold 
Lake. Implementation of management actions is voluntary and dependent 
upon funding and will likely occur at the District level.

[[Page 53602]]

    The Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for Klamath Marsh NWR 
includes conservation actions for maintaining or improving local 
habitat conditions for the benefit of Oregon spotted frogs on NWR 
property. These include: restoring or maintaining hydrologic regimes, 
protecting and restoring ephemeral and permanent wetlands, restoring or 
maintaining open water and early seral vegetation communities, 
reevaluating or discontinuing fish stocking practices, development of 
comprehensive grazing strategies or adaptive management plans where 
livestock occur in habitat, and working locally and cooperatively to 
maintain and restore habitat conditions and to monitor the outcomes of 
management actions for Oregon spotted frog (USFWS 2010, p. 72). The 
CCPs detail program planning levels that are sometimes substantially 
above current budget allocations and are primarily used for strategic 
planning and priority setting, thus inclusion of a project in a CCP 
does not guarantee that the project will be implemented. However, 
implementation of the above conservation actions within the CCP could 
benefit a minimum of 338 breeding individuals. These actions are 
expected to improve the status of the Oregon spotted frog on the 
Klamath Marsh NWR if adequate budget allocations are provided and the 
projects are implemented. Existing wetland restoration activities at 
Klamath Marsh NWR have been limited to invasive weed management (Mauser 
2012, pers. comm.).
    Summary of habitat or range destruction, modification, or 
curtailment--Past human actions have destroyed, modified, and curtailed 
the range and habitat available for the Oregon spotted frog, which is 
now absent from an estimated 76 to 90 percent of its former range. The 
loss of wetlands is continuing at certain locations in at least 10 of 
the 15 remaining occupied sub-basins, particularly on private lands. 
The historical and ongoing alteration of hydrological processes 
resulting from the operation of existing water diversions/manipulation 
structures, existing and new roads, residential development, 
agricultural areas, and the removal of beavers continues to impact 
Oregon spotted frogs and their habitat. The changes in hydrology result 
in the loss of breeding through inundation or desiccation of egg 
masses, loss or degradation of habitat necessary for all Oregon spotted 
frog life stages, and the creation of habitat conditions that support 
nonnative predaceous species.
    Reed canarygrass invasions, plant succession, and restoration 
plantings continue to modify and reduce the amount and quality of 
habitat necessary for all Oregon spotted frog life stages. The timing 
and intensity of livestock grazing, or lack thereof, continues to 
change the quality of Oregon spotted frog habitat in British Columbia, 
Washington, and Oregon due to increased sedimentation, increased water 
temperatures, and reduced water quality. Oregon spotted frogs in all 
currently occupied sub-basins are subject to one or more of these 
threats to their habitat. Eleven of the 15 occupied sub-basins are 
currently experiencing a high to very high level of impact, primarily 
due to hydrological changes/manipulations, vegetation encroachment, and 
reed canarygrass invasions. These impacts are ongoing, are expected to 
continue into the future, and affect habitat that supports all life 
stages of the Oregon spotted frog.
    The benefits of the conservation actions to Oregon spotted frogs 
are site-specific, but are not sufficient to ameliorate the habitat 
threats at a sub-basin scale. Wetland restoration efforts have been 
implemented, but rarely are these specifically designed for Oregon 
spotted frogs, and may inadvertently reduce habitat quality for this 
early-seral species. Further, post-restoration monitoring has not been 
accomplished to evaluate whether these efforts are benefiting Oregon 
spotted frogs. Therefore, based on the best information available, the 
threats to Oregon spotted frogs from habitat destruction, modification, 
or curtailment are occurring throughout the entire range of the 
species, and are expected to continue into the future.

Factor B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes has been documented for a wide range of 
amphibians. During the egg-laying period, Oregon spotted frogs occur in 
relatively easy-to-access locations that could make them easy to 
collect. However, we are not aware of collection of Oregon spotted 
frogs for commercial, recreational, or educational purposes.
    Oregon spotted frog populations may be negatively impacted by 
scientific studies. In all Washington breeding locations and some of 
the breeding locations in British Columbia and Oregon, surveys are 
conducted annually during the egg-laying period. While these surveys 
are conducted in a manner to avoid trampling of frogs and egg masses 
(protocol example Pearl et al. 2010), such impacts may still occur. The 
extent to which any population is impacted by these surveys is unknown, 
but expected to be low. Eggs were collected each year beginning in 2002 
from at least two of the extant locations in British Columbia for a 
headstart rearing program, which released metamorphic Oregon spotted 
frogs back into those sites (COSFRT 2012, pp. 30-31). This effort has 
ceased because it was deemed unsuccessful at bolstering the extant 
populations; however, captive husbandry for potential release into new 
locations continues.
    The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has collected 7,870 
eggs (through 2011) from various breeding locations on the Black River 
and Conboy NWRs for their captive-rearing program (Tirhi and Schmidt 
2011, pp. 51-55). During this period, the population has continued to 
decline at Conboy Lake, but the source of the decline is unclear and 
cannot specifically be attributed to the egg collection. USGS and 
Colorado State University have been collecting eggs in the Deschutes 
and Klamath Basins for genetic studies since 2007, resulting in the 
collection of at least 3,000 eggs (Robertson and Funk 2012 pp. 8-11; C. 
Pearl 2012, pers. comm.). However, we have no evidence to indicate that 
Oregon spotted frogs are being overutilized for commercial, 
recreational, scientific, or educational purposes such that this 
activity poses a threat to the species.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

Disease
    Amphibians are affected by a variety of diseases, and some diseases 
are known to negatively affect declining amphibian species. Diseases 
that are currently known to occur in Oregon spotted frogs and have the 
potential to affect populations are briefly discussed below. The 
specific effects of disease and parasitism on Oregon spotted frogs are 
not well documented.
    Red-Leg Syndrome--Red-leg syndrome has been identified in several 
declining amphibian species but is not known to be a significant 
problem for the Oregon spotted frog (Blaustein 1999, pers. comm.). Red-
leg syndrome refers to a common condition in which there is a reddening 
of the lower body, usually the legs and sometimes the abdomen, due to a 
dilation of capillaries under the skin. This disease is presumed to be 
widespread, having been reported for > 100 years in many different 
species of frogs and salamanders in captivity and in the wild (Densmore 
and Green 2007, p. 236).

[[Page 53603]]

    Chytrid Fungus--Chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis 
(Bd)) has been implicated in the decline and extinction of numerous 
amphibian species in multiple locations around the world (Speare and 
Berger 2004). In the United States, 7 families including 18 amphibian 
species have been diagnosed as infected with Bd (Speare and Berger 
2004). Bd infection has been documented in at least seven ranid frogs 
from the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon spotted frogs (Adams et 
al. 2010, p. 295; Pearl et al. 2009b, p. 212; Hayes et al. 2009, p. 
149). Chytridiomycosis is a cutaneous infection that ``results in a 
severe diffuse dermatitis characterized by epidermal hyperplasia, 
hyperkeratosis, and variable degrees of cutaneous ulceration and 
hyperemia'' (Bradley et al. 2002, p. 206). Clinical signs can include 
lethargy, abnormal posture, loss of the righting reflex (ability to 
turn over), and death (Daszak et al. 1999, p. 737). The fungal 
organism, Bd, is likely transmitted by release of zoospores into the 
water that eventually contact a susceptible animal, penetrating the 
skin, and establishing an infection (Pessier et al. 1999, p. 198; 
Bradley et al. 2002, p. 206). Dermal infections by Bd are thought to 
cause mortality by interfering with skin functions, including 
maintaining fluid and electrolyte homeostasis (balance), respiration, 
and the skin's role as a barrier to toxic and infectious agents 
(Pessier et al. 1999, p. 198; Bradley et al. 2002, p. 206). Unlike most 
other vertebrates, amphibians drink water and absorb important salts 
(electrolytes) through the skin rather than the mouth. In diseased 
individuals, electrolyte transport across the epidermis was inhibited 
by >50 percent, resulting in cardiac arrest and death (Voyles et al. 
2009, pp. 582, 585).
    In 2007 and 2008, USGS sampled Oregon spotted frogs at sites across 
Washington and Oregon; Bd was confirmed at all locations sampled (Pearl 
et al. 2009b, p. 212). Even though Pearl et al. (2009b, p. 216) 
detected Bd at 100 percent of the sites sampled, they did not observe 
morbidity or mortality that could be attributed to chytridiomycosis. In 
addition to confirmation at USGS-sampled sites, Bd has been confirmed 
in Oregon spotted frogs near Sunriver in central Oregon (Bowerman 2005, 
pers. comm.) and Conboy Lake NWR (Hayes et al. 2009, p. 149) in 
Washington. Pearl et al. (2007, p. 147) detected Bd more frequently in 
highly aquatic species, such as Oregon spotted frogs, than in species 
with more terrestrial adult stages and shorter larval periods, 
suggesting that Oregon spotted frogs may be experiencing elevated 
exposure and infection due to their highly aquatic life-history. In 
addition, modeling done by Pearl et al. (2009b, p. 213) indicates that 
juvenile Oregon spotted frogs that test positive for Bd infection are 
more likely to have a poorer body condition after overwintering than 
individuals that test negative for Bd infection.
    Alone, Bd may not be a concern for some healthy amphibian 
populations; however, most of the Oregon spotted frog populations in 
Oregon and Washington are already exposed to several stressors, such as 
predation, competition from nonnative species, and water quality 
degradation, and the effects of Bd are likely to be exacerbated and 
potentially compounded by these interactions (for example, see Parris 
and Baud 2004, pp. 346-347; Parris and Cornelius 2004, pp. 3388-3390; 
Parris and Beaudoin 2004, p. 628). In addition, Bd has been found in 
nonnative species that co-occur with Oregon spotted frogs in central 
Oregon (Pearl et al. 2007, p. 147); in particular, bullfrogs may serve 
as a Bd host while experiencing limited negative effects from the 
pathogen.
    Laboratory studies have shown that infecting Oregon spotted frogs 
with Bd inhibits growth without necessarily showing any direct clinical 
signs (Padgett-Flohr and Hayes 2011). Recently metamorphosed frogs 
exposed to one of two strains of Bd tested positive for the pathogen 
within 11 days after exposure; however, no frogs died or displayed 
clinical signs of disease and most (83 percent) tested negative for the 
pathogen within 90 days of exposure. However, infected frogs gained 
significantly less weight than control animals, suggesting the 
infection carried an energetic cost. The detection of Bd at all Oregon 
spotted frog sites sampled, combined with the lack of observed 
mortality (in the wild and laboratory testing), indicates Oregon 
spotted frogs may be able to persist with Bd infections (Pearl et al. 
2009b, p. 216) but growth and presumed long-term survival (e.g., 
avoidance of predators) are inhibited. Consequently, in light of the 
numerous amphibian extinctions attributed to Bd, and in conjunction 
with the other stressors that impact Oregon spotted frogs, we conclude 
that Bd poses a risk to individual Oregon spotted frog populations, 
particularly those most susceptible to climate changes (see Factor E), 
but additional studies are necessary to determine whether Bd is a 
threat rangewide to the Oregon spotted frog.
    Other pathogens, such as iridoviruses (specifically Ranavirus), 
have been documented to cause mortality in North American amphibians 
(Dasak et al. 1999, pp. 741-743). While not yet documented in wild 
Oregon spotted frog populations, iridovirus outbreaks have been 
identified as a major source of mortality in British Columbia captive-
rearing programs for Oregon spotted frogs (COSEWIC 2011, p. 35).
    Saprolegnia--The oomycete water mold Saprolegnia has been suggested 
as one of the causes of amphibian declines in the Pacific Northwest 
(Kiesecker and Blaustein 1997, p. 218). Genetic analysis confirmed 
oomycetes of multiple genera on amphibian eggs in the Pacific 
Northwest, including Oregon spotted frogs (Petrisko et al. 2008, pp. 
174-178). McAllister and Leonard (1997, p. 25) reported destruction of 
developing Oregon spotted frog egg masses by this fungus, but not to 
the extent observed in other amphibian eggs. The threat of Saprolegnia 
to Oregon spotted frog populations is unclear, but this fungus has been 
shown to destroy Oregon spotted frog egg masses and could pose a threat 
to individual Oregon spotted frog breeding areas in the future.
    Ultraviolet-B Radiation--Impacts resulting from exposure to 
ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B) appear to vary greatly between amphibian 
species. Ambient levels of UV-B radiation in the atmosphere have risen 
significantly over the past few decades due to decreases in 
stratospheric ozone, climate warming, and lake acidification. Because 
amphibian eggs lack shells and adults and tadpoles have thin, delicate 
skin, they are extremely vulnerable to increased levels of UV-B 
radiation. However, the harmful effects of UV-B radiation on amphibians 
depend upon a number of variables (Blaustein et al. 2003, pp. 123-128). 
Studies summarized in Blaustein et al. (2003) indicate UV-B exposure 
can result in mortality, as well as a variety of sublethal effects, 
including behavior alteration, slow growth and development, and 
developmental and physiological malformations. The type and severity of 
effect varies by life stage exposed and dosage of UV-B. Experimental 
tests conducted by Blaustein et al. (1999, p. 1102) found the hatching 
success of Oregon spotted frogs was unaffected by UV-B, indicating 
their eggs may be UV-resistant. However, a meta-analysis of available 
published literature conducted by Bancroft et al. (2008) found that 
exposure to UV-B resulted in a 1.9-fold reduction in amphibian survival 
and that larvae (tadpoles) were more susceptible than embryos. In 
addition, Bancroft et al. (2008) determined that UV-B interacted 
synergistically with other environmental stressors, such as

[[Page 53604]]

contaminants, resulting in greater than additive effects on survival. 
For example, Kiesecker and Blaustein (1997, pp. 217-218) found 
increased mortality associated with the fungus identified as 
Saprolegnia ferax in amphibian embryos exposed to UV-B; especially 
susceptible were amphibians that lay eggs in communal egg masses, like 
Oregon spotted frogs. At present, the extent of population-level 
impacts from UV-B exposure is unknown.
    Malformations--The North American Reporting Center for Amphibian 
Malformations (NBII 2005) documents amphibian malformations throughout 
the United States. Malformations of several Rana species, including the 
Cascades frog (Rana cascadae), red-legged frog (Rana aurora), foothill 
yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii), and bullfrog, have been reported 
within the current and historical range of the Oregon spotted frog in 
Washington, Oregon, and California. We are aware of one report from 
Thurston County, Washington, of an Oregon spotted frog with an extra 
forelimb (NBII 2005) and reports of malformations from Deschutes 
(Johnson et al. 2002a, p. 157; Bowerman and Johnson 2003, pp. 142-144), 
Douglas, and Lane (NBII 2005) Counties in Oregon. Growing evidence 
suggests that the high frequencies of severe limb malformations may be 
caused by a parasitic infection (Ribeiroia ondatrae) in amphibian 
larvae (Johnson et al. 2002a, p. 162). Recent investigations also 
indicate small fish and certain libellulid and corduliid dragonfly 
larvae attack developing tadpoles and can cause high incidences of 
missing-limb deformities, including complete amputation (Ballengee and 
Sessions 2009; Bowerman et al. 2010). At present, the extent of 
population-level impacts from malformations is unknown.
    Parasitic infection--Aquatic snails (Planorbella spp.) are the 
exclusive intermediate host for the trematode Ribeiroia ondatrae 
(Johnson and Chase 2004, p. 523) and are found in a diversity of 
habitats, including ephemeral ponds, montane lakes, stock ponds, 
oxbows, drainage canals, and reservoirs (Johnson et al. 2002a, p. 164). 
Trematodes are parasitic flatworms that have a thick outer cuticle and 
one or more suckers or hooks for attaching to host tissue. Johnson et 
al. (2002, p. 165) postulate that the dramatic and widespread 
alterations of aquatic ecosystems, particularly the construction of 
small impoundments or farm ponds, may have created environments that 
facilitate high densities of Planorbella snails and the resulting 
infections from R. ondatrae. Many of the sites with high frequencies of 
malformations were impacted heavily by cattle and supported dense 
Planorbella snail populations. Malformations in multiple amphibian 
species were found in Washington ponds that had a history of grazing 
that extended back at least 50 years (Johnson et al. 2002a, p. 165).
    Johnson et al. (2002, p. 166) found the frequency of malformations 
in larval amphibians was significantly higher than in transformed 
amphibians from the same system, suggesting that malformed larvae 
experience greater mortality prior to and during metamorphosis. 
However, sensitivity to and severity (mortality versus no malformation) 
of infection varies by amphibian species (Johnson and Hartson 2009, p. 
195) and tadpole stage exposed (Schotthoefer et al. 2003, p. 1148).
    High levels of R. ondatrae infection and the resulting 
malformations may increase mortality in wild amphibian populations and 
may represent a threat to amphibian populations already in decline. 
Johnson et al. (2002a, p. 157) and Bowerman and Johnson (2003, pp. 142-
144) have found deformities in Oregon spotted frogs caused by this 
parasite at the Sunriver Nature Center Pond, which had a high 
population of large planorbid snails. Three additional ponds within 6 
mi (10 km) were also investigated, each of which supported planorbid 
snails, but at lower infestation levels. None of these ponds yielded 
malformed Oregon spotted frogs (Bowerman et al. 2003, pp. 142-143). 
Most of the malformations found in anuran frogs were around the hind 
limbs, where they are more likely to be debilitating (hinder mobility) 
and expose the frog to increased risk of predation (reduced escape/
evade ability). (Johnson et al. 2002a, p. 162). In a study on wood 
frogs (Rana sylvatica), Michel and Burke (2011) reported malformed 
tadpoles were twice as vulnerable to predators because they could not 
escape or evade.
    Human manipulation of upland areas adjacent to amphibian breeding 
areas and direct manipulation of the breeding areas can affect the 
prevalence of Planorbella snails and the infection rate of R. ondatrae. 
Complex habitats reduce transmission rates of larval trematodes because 
these habitats provide more refugia for tadpoles. Alternatively, 
simplified habitats, such as agricultural landscapes, have been shown 
to reduce parasite prevalence by limiting access of vertebrate hosts, 
particularly in birds (King et al. 2007, p. 2074). However, when 
simplified habitats are subject to water runoff associated with 
agricultural, cattle, or urban sources and eutrophication, the 
abundance of snails can increase, thereby increasing the prevalence of 
trematodes and parasitic risks to frogs (Johnson and Chase 2004, pp. 
522-523; Johnson et al. 2007 p. 15782). While the effects of these 
parasite-induced malformations are clear at the individual scale, 
population-level effects remain largely uninvestigated. However, Biek 
et al. (2002, p. 731) found that the viabilities of pond-breeding 
amphibians were most vulnerable to reductions in juvenile or adult 
survival relative to other portions of the life cycles. Therefore, it 
is reasonable to infer that where Planorbella snails coincide with 
Oregon spotted frogs, malformations will occur resulting in mortality 
of juvenile frogs and a population decline at that location. At 
present, it is not known where these co-occurrences take place, nor how 
extensive infections levels may be, but 11 of the occupied sub-basins 
have agricultural, cattle, or urban sources that produce runoff that 
can increase the snail populations, and negative effects have been 
demonstrated at the Sunriver Nature Center Pond population.
Predation
    Predation is a process of major importance in influencing the 
distribution, abundance, and diversity of species in ecological 
communities. Generally, predation leads to changes in both the 
population size of the predator and that of the prey. In unfavorable 
environments, prey species are stressed or living at low population 
densities such that predation is likely to have negative effects on all 
prey species, thus lowering species richness. In addition, when a 
nonnative predator is introduced to the ecosystem, negative effects on 
the prey population may be higher than those from co-evolved native 
predators. The effects of predation may be magnified when populations 
are small, and the disproportionate effect of predation on declining 
populations has been shown to drive rare species even further toward 
extinction (Woodworth 1999, pp. 74-75).
    Introduced fish species within the historical range of the Oregon 
spotted frog may have contributed to losses of populations. Oregon 
spotted frogs, which are palatable to fish, did not evolve with these 
introduced species and may not have the mechanisms to avoid the 
predatory fish that prey on the tadpoles. The warm water microhabitat 
requirement of the Oregon spotted frog, unique among native ranids of 
the Pacific Northwest, exposes it to a

[[Page 53605]]

number of introduced fish species (Hayes 1994, p. 25), such as 
smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), largemouth bass (Micropterus 
salmoides), pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), yellow perch (Perca 
flavescens), bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), brown bullhead (Ameriurus 
nebulosus), black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), warmouth (Lepomis 
gulosus), brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), rainbow trout 
(Oncorhynchus mykiss), and fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) (Hayes 
and Jennings 1986, pp. 494-496; Hayes 1997, pp. 42-43; Hayes et al. 
1997; McAllister and Leonard 1997, p. 14; Engler 1999, pers. comm.).
    Surveys from 1993 to 1997 in British Columbia, Washington, and 
Oregon documented at least one introduced predator in 20 of 24 sites 
(Hayes et al. 1997, p. 5). Brook trout was the most frequently recorded 
introduced predator, which was recorded at 18 of 24 sites. Although 
differences in temperature requirements between the two species may 
limit their interactions, brook trout apparently occur with the Oregon 
spotted frog at coldwater springs, where the latter species probably 
overwinters and where cooler water is favorable to brook trout (Hayes 
et al. 1997, p. 5). During drought years, dropping water levels result 
in overlap in habitat use between these two species. As wetland refuges 
are reduced, Oregon spotted frogs become concentrated and the larval 
stages are exposed to brook trout predation (Hayes et al. 1997, p. 5; 
Hayes 1998a, p. 15), resulting in lower Oregon spotted frog recruitment 
(Pearl 1999, p. 18). In addition to effects in breeding habitat, Pearl 
et al. (2009a, p. 143) found substantial evidence for a negative effect 
on overwintering Oregon spotted frogs from nonnative fish with access 
to spring and channel habitats. In these latter situations, predation 
is believed to be more pronounced in spatially constrained 
overwintering habitats where frogs and fish may both seek flowing water 
with dissolved oxygen. Their findings suggest that these negative 
effects are mediated by habitat complexity and the seasonal use of 
microhabitats, and Oregon spotted frogs can benefit from fish-free 
overwintering sites, even if fish are present in other local habitats.
    Demographic data indicate that sites with significant numbers of 
brook trout and/or fathead minnow have a skewed ratio of older spotted 
frogs to juvenile frogs, suggesting poor reproductive success or 
juvenile recruitment (Hayes 1997, pp. 42-43, 1998a). While experimental 
data are sparse, field surveys involving other western amphibians 
(e.g., Adams 1999, p. 1168; Monello and Wright 1999, pp. 299-300; Bull 
and Marx 2002, pp. 245-247; Vredenberg 2004; Knapp 2005, pp. 275-276; 
Pearl et al. 2005b, pp. 82-83) and other closely related frog species 
strongly suggest that introduced fish represent a threat to Oregon 
spotted frogs that has significant impacts (Pearl 1999, pp. 17-18). A 
study of the impacts of introduced trout on Columbia spotted frog 
populations in Idaho revealed that, although fish and adult frogs 
coexisted at many of the stocked lakes, most stocked lakes contained 
significantly lower densities of all amphibian life stages (Pilliod and 
Peterson 2001, p. 326). On the other hand, preliminary results from the 
Willamette Valley in Oregon suggest that nonnative, warm water fishes 
actually benefit introduced populations of bullfrogs because of fish 
predation on macroinvertebrates that would otherwise prey on bullfrog 
larvae (Adams and Pearl 2003).
    The presence of these nonnative species has been shown to increase 
the time for metamorphosis and decrease the mass of native red-legged 
frogs (Kiesecker and Blaustein 1997). A recent study documented 
nonnative fish negatively influencing the survival and growth of 
Pacific treefrogs while bullfrog larvae reduced the growth but had no 
effect on survival (Preston et al. 2012, p. 1257). In addition, the 
predation effects of nonnative fish and bullfrogs on Pacific tree frogs 
were additive, but those species had little impact on each other 
(Preston et al. 2012, p. 1259). Many of the sub-basins occupied by 
Oregon spotted frogs also have introduced warm- and/or cold-water fish, 
and 5 of the 15 sub-basins are subject to high to very high impacts due 
to predation of larvae and reduced winter survival.
    The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) stocks fish in 
most of the Cascades Lakes and two reservoirs in the Upper Deschutes 
River sub-basin occupied by Oregon spotted frogs (Hodgson 2012, pers. 
comm.). In addition to stocking, there is natural production of various 
fish species, both native and introduced, in the lakes and reservoirs 
in the Upper Deschutes River sub-basin and in lakes in the McKenzie 
River and Middle Fork Willamette sub-basins where spotted frogs occur 
(Hodgson 2012, pers. comm.; Ziller 2013, pers. comm.; USFS 2011). ODFW 
no longer stocks fish in any of the moving waters associated with 
Oregon spotted frog locations within the Klamath Basin (Tinniswood 
2012, pers. comm.).
    Bullfrogs introduced from eastern North America into the historical 
range of the Oregon spotted frog may have contributed to losses of 
populations. The introduction of bullfrogs may have played a role in 
the disappearance of Oregon spotted frogs from the Willamette Valley in 
Oregon and the Puget Sound area in Washington (Nussbaum et al. 1983, p. 
187). Bullfrogs share similar habitat and temperature requirements with 
the Oregon spotted frog, and the overlap in time and space between the 
two species is believed to be extensive (Hayes 1994, p. 25; Hayes et 
al. 1997, p. 5). Bullfrogs can reach high densities due to the 
production of large numbers of eggs per breeding female and 
unpalatability (and high survivorship) of tadpoles to predatory fish 
(Kruse and Francis 1977, pp. 250-251). Bullfrog tadpoles outcompete or 
displace tadpoles of native frog species from their habitat or optimal 
conditions (Kupferberg 1997, pp. 1741-1746, Kiesecker and Blaustein 
1998, pp. 783-784, Kiesecker et al. 2001b, pp. 1966-1967).
    Bullfrog adults achieve larger size than native western ranids and 
even juvenile bullfrogs can consume native frogs (Hayes and Jennings 
1986, p. 492; Pearl et al. 2004, p. 16). The digestive tracts of a 
sample of 25 adult bullfrogs from Conboy Lake in Washington contained 
nine Oregon spotted frogs, including seven adults (McAllister and 
Leonard 1997, p. 13). A later examination of the stomachs of two large 
bullfrogs revealed two adult or subadult Oregon spotted frogs in one 
stomach and four in the second (Hayes 1999, pers. comm.). Bullfrogs 
were recorded consuming hatchling Oregon spotted frogs at British 
Columbia's Maintenance Detachment Aldergrove site (Haycock and Woods 
2001, unpubl. data cited in COSFRT 2012, p. 19). In addition, USGS has 
observed Oregon spotted frogs within dissected bullfrogs at multiple 
sites throughout the Deschutes and Klamath Basins (Pearl 2012, pers 
comm.).
    Oregon spotted frogs are more susceptible to predation by bullfrogs 
than are northern red-legged frogs (Pearl et al. 2004, p. 16). Oregon 
spotted frogs and northern red-legged frogs historically coexisted in 
areas of the Pacific Northwest that are now invaded by bullfrogs. 
However, the Oregon spotted frog has declined more severely than the 
northern red-legged frog. Pearl et al. (2004, p. 16) demonstrated in 
laboratory experiments that the more aquatic Oregon spotted frog 
juveniles are consumed by bullfrogs at a higher rate than are northern 
red-legged frog juveniles. Oregon spotted frogs and

[[Page 53606]]

northern red-legged frogs also differ in their ability to escape 
bullfrogs, with Oregon spotted frogs having shorter mean and maximum 
jump distances than northern red-legged frogs of equal size. Bullfrogs, 
therefore, pose a greater threat to Oregon spotted frogs than to red-
legged frogs. Oregon spotted frog's microhabitat use and escape 
abilities may be limiting their distributions in historical lowland 
habitats where bullfrogs are present, whereas red-legged frog 
populations are more stable (Pearl et al. 2004, pp. 17-18).
    The ability of bullfrogs and Oregon spotted frogs to coexist may be 
related to differences in seasonal and permanent wetland use. However, 
a substantial bullfrog population has likely coexisted with Oregon 
spotted frogs for nearly 50 years in Conboy Lake in Washington 
(Rombough et al. 2006, p. 210). This long-term overlap has been 
hypothesized to be the evolutionary driver for larger body size of 
Oregon spotted frogs at Conboy Lake (Rombough et al. 2006, p. 210). On 
the other hand, Oregon spotted frogs at Trout Lake NAP in Washington 
also exhibit body sizes that exceed the general mean and range for the 
species elsewhere but do not co-occur with bullfrogs. Winterkill could 
be a factor in controlling the bullfrog population at Conboy Lake and, 
hence, facilitating co-existence with Oregon spotted frogs (Engler and 
Hayes 1998, p. 2); however, the Oregon spotted frog population at 
Conboy Lake has declined over the last decade, some of which is likely 
due to bullfrog predation. Bullfrogs have been actively controlled in 
the Sunriver area in Oregon for more than 40 years, and despite efforts 
to eradicate them, they have been expanding in distribution (Bowerman 
2012, pers. comm.). Bullfrogs have been documented up to 4,300 feet 
(1,311 m) elevation in the Little Deschutes River sub-basin in habitat 
occupied by Oregon spotted frog. Bullfrogs have been found in 10 of the 
15 sub-basins occupied by Oregon spotted frogs, but are relatively rare 
at most of the locations where they co-occur. However, based on our 
threats analysis, the impacts due to predation and/or competition with 
bullfrogs within the Lower Fraser River, Middle Klickitat sub-basins in 
Washington, and the Upper Klamath Lake sub-basin in Oregon are 
considered to be high to very high because of the more extensive 
overlap between these two species in these areas.
    Green frogs (Lithobates clamitans) are native to the eastern United 
States but have been introduced to the western United States and 
Canada. This introduced species occurs at a few lakes in Whatcom 
County, Washington (McAllister 1995; WDFW WSDM database), but Oregon 
spotted frogs are not known to occur in these lakes. Green frogs do co-
occur with Oregon spotted frogs at Maria and Mountain Sloughs in 
British Columbia (COSEWIC 2011, p. 36). Adult green frogs may eat young 
Oregon spotted frogs, but adult Oregon spotted frogs may reach a size 
that is too large to be prey for the species. Whether green frogs are 
significant competitors of Oregon spotted frogs is currently unknown. 
High population densities of green frogs possibly attract and maintain 
higher than normal population densities of native predators, which in 
turn increases predation pressure on Oregon spotted frogs (Canadian 
Recovery Team 2012, p. 19).
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Disease or Predation
    Despite considerable knowledge about the habitat and management 
requirements for Oregon spotted frog, refuge management at the Conboy 
Lakes National Wildlife Refuge remains complex as habitat needs and the 
abatement of other stressors often conflict with the conventional 
intensive wetland management that occurs on the refuge (USFWS, 2010b, 
p. 64). The historical Conboy Lake basin in Washington likely retained 
water for 10 to 12 months in most years. Currently, it retains water 
only during wet years and is drained annually by the Conboy Lake NWR to 
control bullfrogs for the benefit of Oregon spotted frogs. However, the 
draining of the lakebed forces all surviving bullfrogs, fish, and 
Oregon spotted frogs into the canal system for the fall and winter, 
increasing potential predation for Oregon spotted frogs.
    In the Upper and Little Deschutes River sub-basins in Oregon, there 
has been little effort to control invasive predators. Bullfrog 
eradication has been attempted at two sites within the Upper and Little 
Deschutes sub-basins: Sunriver and Crosswater, respectively. However, 
it appears that bullfrogs may be increasing in the Sunriver area 
(Bowerman 2012, pers. comm.).
    Current predator or disease conservation efforts in the Klamath 
Basin in Oregon are limited to bullfrog control or eradication. U.S. 
Geological Survey has conducted a bullfrog eradication program on Crane 
Creek since bullfrogs appeared in 2010. In addition, the BLM has been 
controlling and reducing bullfrogs and analyzing the gut contents of 
bullfrogs at all life stages on their Wood River property in Oregon for 
6 years. Bullfrog detections and collection have decreased in different 
areas of the canal in recent years (Roninger 2012, pers. comm.). The 
number of bullfrogs removed and seen at this site has decreased, and in 
the last few years, the bulk of the bullfrog removal has been from the 
north canal and Seven-mile canal areas (outside the Oregon spotted frog 
site), which is considered to be the strongest source areas for 
movement into the Oregon spotted frog site (Roninger 2012, pers. comm). 
However, despite these efforts, bullfrogs continue to persist in these 
Oregon spotted frog habitats.
    Summary of disease and predation--Saprolegnia, Bd, and Ribeiroia 
ondatrae have been found in Oregon spotted frogs and compounded with 
other stressors, such as UV-B exposure, degradation of habitat quality, 
or increased predation pressure, may contribute to population declines. 
Bd and R. ondatrae, in particular, infect post-metamorphic frogs and 
reductions in these life stages are more likely to lead to population 
declines in pond-breeding amphibians; however, these are not currently 
known to be causing population declines in Oregon spotted frogs. 
Disease continues to be a concern, but more information is needed to 
determine the severity of impact that diseases may have on Oregon 
spotted frogs. Therefore, based on the best available scientific 
evidence, we have no information to indicate that disease is a known 
threat to the Oregon spotted frog.
    Introduced fish species prey on tadpoles, negatively affect 
overwintering habitat, and can significantly threaten Oregon spotted 
frog populations, especially during droughts, as aquatic habitat areas 
become smaller and escape cover is reduced. Cushman et al. 2007 (p. 22) 
states that both Hayes (1997) and Pearl (1999) hypothesized that low 
water conditions have the potential to increase overlap between Oregon 
spotted frog and nonnative predators such as brook trout and bullfrogs. 
Increased overlap in habitat use between Oregon spotted frog and 
nonnative predators is likely to result in greater loss to predation. 
Bullfrogs (and likely green frogs) prey on juvenile and adult Oregon 
spotted frogs and bullfrog larvae can outcompete or displace Oregon 
spotted frog larvae, effectively reducing all Oregon spotted frog life 
stages and posing a significant threat to Oregon spotted frogs. At 
least one nonnative predaceous species occurs within each of the sub-
basins currently occupied by Oregon spotted frogs, and most sub-basins 
have multiple predators. Nine of the 15 occupied sub-basins are 
currently experiencing moderate to very high impacts due to

[[Page 53607]]

predation, and threats from predators are more concentrated in summer/
rearing and overwintering habitat. While some predator control occurs 
in a few sub-basins, this work is not sufficient to ameliorate the 
threat from predators. Therefore, the threats to Oregon spotted frogs 
from predation are occurring throughout the entire range of the species 
and are expected to continue into the future.

Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Under this factor, we examine whether existing regulatory 
mechanisms are inadequate to address the threats to the species 
discussed under the other factors. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act 
requires the Service to take into account ``those efforts, if any, 
being made by any State or foreign nation, or any political subdivision 
of a State or foreign nation, to protect such species . . . .'' In 
relation to Factor D under the Act, we interpret this language to 
require the Service to consider relevant Federal, State, and tribal 
laws, regulations, and other such mechanisms that may minimize any of 
the threats we describe in threat analyses under the other four 
factors, or otherwise enhance conservation of the species. We give 
strongest weight to statutes and their implementing regulations and to 
management direction that stems from those laws and regulations. An 
example would be State governmental actions enforced under a State 
statute or constitution, or Federal action under statute.
    Having evaluated the significance of the threat as mitigated by any 
such conservation efforts, we analyze under Factor D the extent to 
which existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the 
specific threats to the species. Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, 
may reduce or eliminate the impacts from one or more identified 
threats. In this section, we review existing State and Federal 
regulatory mechanisms to determine whether they effectively reduce or 
remove threats to the Oregon spotted frog.
Canadian Laws and Regulations
    In Canada, few regulatory mechanisms protect or conserve Oregon 
spotted frogs. In British Columbia, Oregon spotted frogs are on the 
Conservation Data Centre's Red List. The Red List includes ecological 
communities, indigenous species and subspecies that are extirpated, 
endangered, or threatened in British Columbia; placing taxa on the Red 
List flags them as being at risk and requiring investigation, but does 
not confer any protection (British Columbia Ministry of Environment 
2012, p. 1).
    The Oregon spotted frog was determined to be endangered by the 
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada in 1999, with 
status reexamined and confirmed in 2000 and 2011, and it received an 
endangered determination under the Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) 
in 2003 (COSFRT 2012, p. 1). SARA makes it an offense to kill, harm, 
harass, capture or take an individual of a listed species that is 
extirpated, endangered or threatened; or to possess, collect, buy, sell 
or trade an individual of a listed species that is extirpated, 
endangered or threatened, or any part or derivative of such an 
individual (S.C. ch 29 section 32); or damage or destroy the residence 
of one or more individuals of a listed endangered or threatened species 
or of a listed extirpated species if a recovery strategy has 
recommended its reintroduction (S.C. ch 29 sections 33, 58). The 
prohibitions on harm to individuals and destruction of residences are 
limited to Federal lands. Three of the four breeding locations in 
Canada occur wholly or partially on private lands, which are not 
subject to SARA prohibitions (COSEWIC 2011, p. 38).
    Habitat protection in British Columbia is limited to the Federal 
Fisheries Act, British Columbia Water Act, and the provincial Riparian 
Areas Regulation (COSEWIC 2011, p. 38). The Fisheries Act limits 
activities that can cause harmful alteration, disruption, or 
destruction of fish habitat, with the primary goal being no net loss of 
fish habitat. The Water Act is the principal law for managing the 
diversion and use of provincial water resources. License holders are 
entitled to divert and use water; store water; construct, maintain, and 
operate anything capable of or used for the proper diversion, storage, 
carriage, distribution, and use of the water or the power produced from 
it; alter or improve a stream or channel for any purpose; and construct 
fences, screens, and fish or game guards across streams for the purpose 
of conserving fish and wildlife (Water Act Part 2, section 5). The 
Riparian Areas Regulation was enacted under Section 12 of the Fish 
Protection Act and calls on local governments to protect riparian fish 
habitat during residential, commercial, and industrial development. The 
habitat protections under these Acts are designed to benefit fish 
species. As discussed under Factor A, riparian protection and 
restoration actions designed specifically to benefit fish can be 
detrimental to Oregon spotted frogs and their habitat.
United States Federal Laws and Regulations
    No Federal laws specifically protect the Oregon spotted frog. 
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act is the primary Federal law that is 
relevant to the Oregon spotted frog's aquatic habitat. Through a permit 
process under section 404, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) 
regulates the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the 
United States, including navigable waters and wetlands that may contain 
Oregon spotted frogs. However, many actions highly detrimental to 
Oregon spotted frogs and their habitats, such as irrigation diversion 
structure construction and maintenance and other activities associated 
with ongoing farming operations in existing cropped wetlands, are 
exempt from Clean Water Act requirements.
    In Washington and Oregon, current section 404 regulations provide 
for the issuance of nationwide permits for at least 15 of the 52 
categories of activities identified under the nationwide permit program 
(USACOE 2012a, pp. 1-46), which, for example, could result in the 
permanent loss of up to 500 ft (150 m) of streambank and 1 ac (0.4 ha) 
of wetlands (USACOE 2012a, 2012b, 2012c). Projects authorized under a 
nationwide permit receive minimal public and agency review, and in many 
cases, agency notification is not required. Individual permits are 
subject to a more rigorous review, and may be required for nationwide 
permit activities with more than minimal impacts. Under both the 
individual and nationwide permit programs, no activities can be 
authorized if they are likely to directly or indirectly (1) jeopardize 
the continued existence of a threatened or endangered species, or a 
species proposed for designation, or (2) destroy or adversely modify 
the critical habitat of such species, unless section 7 consultation 
addressing the effects of the proposed activity has been completed. 
During section 7 consultation, effects to the species itself and 
aquatic habitat/wetlands would be considered.
    For nationwide permits, Corps notification may not be required 
depending upon the project type and the amount of wetland to be 
impacted. Impacts to wetlands may be authorized with no compensatory 
mitigation in some cases. In other cases, wetland impacts may be 
authorized if the permittee demonstrates the project footprint has been 
designed to avoid most wetland impacts and unavoidable impacts can be 
adequately mitigated through wetland creation, restoration, or

[[Page 53608]]

enhancement. For example, nationwide permits authorize the discharge of 
fill material into 0.25 ac (0.1 ha) of wetlands with no requirement for 
compensatory mitigation. In situations where compensatory wetland 
mitigation is required, in kind mitigation is preferred but not 
required.
    A Washington State wetland mitigation evaluation study (Johnson et 
al. (2002b, entire) found a resulting net loss of wetlands with or 
without compensatory mitigation, because wetland creation and 
enhancement projects were minimally successful or not successful in 
implementation nor in achieving their ecologically relevant measures. 
In Washington, mitigation sites within the South Fork Nooksack, Samish, 
and Black River sub-basins have been designed to improve water quality 
by planting trees and shrubs. Some of these activities have been 
conducted in Oregon spotted frog breeding habitat. Therefore, an 
activity that fills Oregon spotted frog habitat could be mitigated by 
restoring and or creating riparian habitat suitable for fish, but which 
is not suitable for frogs. In general, most riparian habitat 
restoration in Washington is targeted toward salmon species and does 
not include floodplain depression wetlands.
State Laws and Regulations
    Washington--Although there is no State Endangered Species Act in 
Washington, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has the 
authority to list species (RCW 77.12.020). State-listed species are 
protected from direct take, but their habitat is not protected (RCW 
77.15.120). The Oregon spotted frog was listed as a State endangered 
species in Washington in August 1997 (Watson et al. 1998, p. 1; 2003, 
p. 292; WAC 232-12-014). State listings generally consider only the 
status of the species within the State's borders, and do not depend 
upon the same considerations as a potential Federal listing. Unoccupied 
or unsurveyed habitat is not protected unless by County ordinances or 
other similar rules or laws.
    Oregon spotted frogs are a Priority Species under Washington 
Department of Fish and Wildlife's (WDFW) Priority Habitats and Species 
Program (WDFW 2008, pp. 68). As a Priority Species, the Oregon spotted 
frog may receive some protection of its habitat under environmental 
reviews of applications for county or municipal development permits and 
through implementation of Priority Habitats and Species management 
recommendations. Priority Habitat and Species Management 
Recommendations for this species include maintaining stable water 
levels and natural flow rates; maintaining vegetation along stream 
banks or pond edges; avoidance of introducing nonnative amphibians, 
reptiles, or fish; avoidance of removing algae from rearing areas; 
avoiding alteration of muddy substrates; controlling stormwater runoff 
away from frog habitat; avoiding application of pesticides in or 
adjacent to water bodies used by Oregon spotted frogs; and surveying 
within the historical range of the species (Nordstrom and Milner 1997, 
pp. 6-5-6-6).
    The Clean Water Act of 1972 requires States to set water quality 
standards to protect beneficial uses, identify sources of pollution in 
waters that fail to meet State water quality standards (Section 
303(d)), and to develop water quality plans to address those 
pollutants. Although the Clean Water Act is a Federal law, authority 
for implementing this law has been delegated to the State. Washington 
State adopted revised water quality standards for temperature and 
intergravel dissolved oxygen in December 2006, and the Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) approved these revised standards in February 
2008 (EPA 2008). Although candidate species were not the focus, 
proponents believed that the proposed standards would likely protect 
native aquatic species. The temperature standards are intended to 
restore thermal regimes to protect sensitive native salmonids, and, if 
temperature is not a limiting factor in sustaining viable salmonid 
populations, other native species would likely be protected (EPA 2007, 
p. 14).
    The State has developed water quality plans for the Lower Nooksack, 
Samish, and Upper Chehalis Rivers; however, as of 2008 (most recent 
freshwater listing), portions of the Sumas River; Black Slough in the 
S.F. Nooksack River sub-basin; portions of the Samish River; segments 
of the Black River; segments of Dempsey, Allen, and Beaver Creeks in 
the Black River drainage, and a segment in the upper portion of Trout 
Lake Creek were listed by the Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE) 
as not meeting water quality standards for a variety of parameters, 
including temperature, fecal coliform, pH, and dissolved oxygen (see 
Factor E). In addition, for the streams/rivers where the temperature or 
fecal coliform standard is exceeded, the water quality plans call for 
planting trees and shrubs and excluding cattle, which would not be 
conducive to the creation and maintenance of early seral stage 
conditions (i.e., emergent vegetation) necessary for Oregon spotted 
frog egg-laying habitat (see Factor A).
    Oregon--Oregon has a State Endangered Species Act, but the Oregon 
spotted frog is not State listed. Although this species is on the 
Oregon sensitive species list and is considered critically sensitive, 
this designation provides little protection (ODFW 1996, OAR 635-100-
0040). Once an Oregon ``native wildlife'' species is federally listed 
as threatened or endangered, it is included as a State-listed species 
and receives some protection and management, primarily on State owned 
or managed lands (OAR 635-100-0100 to OAR 635-100-0180; ORS 496.171 to 
ORS 496.192).
    Although the Clean Water Act is a Federal law, authority for 
implementing this law has been delegated to the State. Oregon adopted 
revised water quality standards for temperature, intergravel dissolved 
oxygen, and anti-degradation in December 2003, and EPA approved these 
revised standards in March 2004 (EPA 2004). Although candidate species 
were not the focus, it was believed that the proposed standards would 
likely protect native aquatic species. The proposed temperature 
standards are intended to restore thermal regimes to protect sensitive 
native salmonids and, if temperature is not a limiting factor in 
sustaining viable salmonid populations, other native species would 
likely be protected (EPA 2004). In December 2012, EPA approved 
additions to Oregon's 303(d) list, which includes waterbodies that do 
not meet water quality standards for multiple parameters (ODEQ 2012). 
Many of the streams associated with Oregon spotted frog habitat are 
303(d) listed by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (see 
Factor E).
    Oregon's Removal-Fill Law (ORS 196.795-990) requires people who 
plan to remove or fill material in waters of the State to obtain a 
permit from the Department of State Lands. Wetlands and waterways in 
Oregon are protected by both State and Federal laws. Projects impacting 
waters often require both a State removal-fill permit, issued by the 
Department of State Lands (DSL), and a Federal permit issued by the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). A permit is required only if 50 
cubic yards (cy) or more of fill or removal will occur. The removal 
fill law does not regulate the draining of wetlands (see Local Laws and 
Regulations below).
Local Laws and Regulations
    Washington--The Washington Shoreline Management Act's purpose is 
``to prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal 
development of the State's shorelines.'' Shorelines are defined as: all 
marine waters; streams and rivers with greater

[[Page 53609]]

than 20 cfs (0.6 cms) mean annual flow; lakes 20 ac or larger; upland 
areas called shorelands that extend 200 ft (61 m) landward from the 
edge of these waters; and the following areas when they are associated 
with one of the previous shorelines: biological wetlands and river 
deltas, and some or all of the 100-year floodplain, including all 
wetlands within the 100-year floodplain. Each city and county with 
``shorelines of the state'' must prepare and adopt a Shoreline Master 
Program (SMP) that is based on State laws and rules but is tailored to 
the specific geographic, economic, and environmental needs of the 
community. The local SMP is essentially a shoreline-specific combined 
comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance, and development permit system.
    The Washington State Growth Management Act of 1990 requires all 
jurisdictions in the State to designate and protect critical areas. The 
State defines five broad categories of critical areas, including (a) 
wetlands; (b) areas with a critical recharging effect on aquifers used 
for potable water; (c) fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas; 
(d) frequently flooded areas; and (e) geologically hazardous areas. The 
County Area Ordinance (CAO) is the county regulation that most directly 
addresses protection of the critical areas mapped by each county.
    Frequently, local government will have adopted zoning regulations 
and comprehensive land use plans that apply both within and outside 
shoreline areas. When these codes are applied within the shoreline 
area, there may be differences in the zoning regulations and the plan 
policies as compared with the regulations and policies of the SMP. 
Because the SMP is technically a State law (i.e., WAC), the 
requirements of the SMP will prevail in the event of a conflict with 
the local zoning or plan. Generally, however, a conflict will not exist 
if the zoning or plan requirements are more protective of the shoreline 
environment than the SMP. For example, if the zoning district allows a 
density of one unit per acre, and the SMP allows a density of two units 
per, the requirements of the more restrictive code would prevail.
    Within each county in Washington, the SMP and CAO are the 
regulations that most directly address protection of Oregon spotted 
frog habitat. A brief discussion of the current SMPs and CAOs for the 
five counties where Oregon spotted frogs are known to occur follows.
    Whatcom County: Whatcom County updated its Shoreline Management 
Program in 2008. Based on interpretation of the 2008 SMP, the known 
Oregon spotted frog occupied locations in the Lower Chilliwack or South 
Fork Nooksack River sub-basins are not ``shorelines.'' Samish River 
within Whatcom County is designated as Conservancy Shoreline that 
provides specific allowed uses and setbacks. Presently, the two primary 
uses of this area are agricultural and residential, both of which are 
allowed under the SMP, with some restrictions. Restrictions include 
shoreline setbacks of 15-20 ft (4.5-6.1 m) and allowance of no more 
than 10 percent impervious surface (although it is uncertain whether 
this is applicable on a per-project, per-acre, or per-basin basis). One 
of the allowed uses is restoration, which is focused on recovery of 
salmon and bull trout. Many of the restoration actions targeting salmon 
and bull trout recovery are not conducive to maintaining early seral 
vegetation stages necessary to maintain Oregon spotted frog egg-laying 
habitat. Some activities would require a permit that must be reviewed 
and approved by Whatcom County and the Washington Department of Ecology 
for consistency.
    The Whatcom County CAO that is the most relevant to Oregon spotted 
frogs applies to wetland areas, which are present in the three sub-
basins where Oregon spotted frogs occur in this county. Activities in 
all wetlands are regulated unless the wetland is \1/10\ ac or smaller 
in size; however, activities that can destroy or modify Oregon spotted 
frog habitat can still occur under the existing CAO. Activities that 
are conditionally allowed include surface water discharge; storm water 
management facilities; storm water conveyance or discharge facilities; 
public roads, bridges, and trails; single-family developments; and 
onsite sewage disposal systems. Buffers and mitigation are required, 
but can be adjusted by the county. In general, wetlands and the 
associated wetland buffer CAOs target an avoidance strategy, which may 
not be beneficial to the maintenance of Oregon spotted frog early seral 
stage habitat on a long-term basis in areas where reed canarygrass is 
present. Within the areas occupied by Oregon spotted frogs in the three 
sub-basins, all egg-laying habitat is within seasonally flooded areas, 
which may or may not be defined as wetlands. Rather than an avoidance 
strategy, these areas may require management actions to remove reed 
canarygrass in order to maintain egg-laying habitat and provide for 
Oregon spotted frog persistence. Within Whatcom County, protective 
measures for Oregon spotted frogs are afforded under both the SMP and 
the CAOs, although no measures are specifically directed toward this 
species.
    Skagit County: Skagit County's revisions to its SMP are under 
review and anticipated to be adopted by June 2013 
(www.skagitcounty.net). Until the revised SMP is approved by WDOE, the 
1976 SMP remains in effect. The portion of the Samish River in Skagit 
County is designated as Rural Shoreline Area, and typified by low 
overall structural density, and low to moderate intensity of 
agriculture, residential development, outdoor recreation, and forestry 
operations uses. This designation is intended to maintain open spaces 
and opportunities for recreational activities and a variety of uses 
compatible with agriculture and the shoreline environment. Presently, 
the two primary uses of the Samish River where Oregon spotted frog 
occur are agricultural and residential. With some restrictions, almost 
all activities are allowed within this designation, and the draining of 
wetlands is not prohibited. Agricultural users are encouraged to retain 
vegetation along stream banks. Developments and sand and gravel 
extractions are allowed provided they are compatible with agricultural 
uses. These types of activities can be detrimental to Oregon spotted 
frog egg-laying habitat.
    The Skagit County CAO designates lands adjacent to the Samish River 
where Oregon spotted frogs are known to occur as Rural Resource or 
Agricultural. These land designations and the associated allowed 
activities are intended to provide some protection of hydrological 
functions, but they are primarily designed to retain a rural setting 
(low residential density) or to ensure the stability and productivity 
of agriculture and forestry in the county, which has some benefits to 
the Oregon spotted frog.
    Thurston County: Thurston County's revision of its SMP is currently 
under way, and until the revised SMP is completed and approved, the 
1990 SMP remains in effect. The majority of the areas within the Black 
River that are known to be occupied by Oregon spotted frogs are either 
undesignated (primarily the tributaries) or designated as Natural or 
Conservancy Environments. Two small areas are designated as Urban at 
the town of Littlerock and along Beaver Creek. Fish Pond Creek, a known 
Oregon spotted frog breeding location, is within the designated Urban 
Growth Area. Within the Natural Environment designation areas, most 
activity types are prohibited, although livestock grazing, low-
intensity recreation, low-density (\1/10\ ac)

[[Page 53610]]

residences, and conditional shoreline alterations are allowed. Within 
Conservancy Environments, most activities are conditionally allowed, 
and would require a permit that must be reviewed and approved by 
Thurston County and WDOE for consistency with the SMP.
    Thurston County approved a revision to the CAO in July 2012. The 
Thurston County CAO that is the most relevant to Oregon spotted frogs 
addresses Wetlands, although the 100-year floodplain and Channel 
Migration Zone designations are also applicable. Activities in most 
wetlands are regulated, other than those less than or equal to 1,000 
square feet in size. As a result, activities that can destroy or modify 
Oregon spotted frog habitat may still occur, such as asphalt batch 
plant construction, new agricultural uses, boat ramps, docks, piers, 
floats, bridge or culvert projects, clearing-grading-excavation 
activities, and dredging/removal operations. Buffers and mitigation are 
required, but can be adjusted by the county. In general, wetlands and 
the associated wetland buffer CAOs strive toward a no-management 
approach, which may not be beneficial to the maintenance of Oregon 
spotted frog early seral stage habitat on a long-term basis. Within the 
areas occupied by Oregon spotted frogs in the Black River, all egg-
laying habitat is within seasonally flooded areas, which may or may not 
be defined as wetlands. Rather than an avoidance strategy, these areas 
may require management actions to remove reed canarygrass in order to 
maintain egg-laying habitat. Within Thurston County, protective 
measures for Oregon spotted frogs are afforded under both the SMP and 
CAOs, although no measures are specifically directed toward this 
species.
    Skamania County: Skamania County's revision to its SMP is under 
way, and until revised, the 1980 SMP is in effect. According to the 
1980 SMP, Trout Lake Creek is not a shoreline of Skamania County. The 
portions of Trout Lake Creek that are in Skamania County have no 
designated critical areas. Therefore, the SMP and CAO are not 
applicable to Oregon spotted frog habitat in Skamania County.
    Klickitat County: Klickitat County's SMP was adopted in 1998 and 
revised in 2007. Based on the 2007 SMP, only Trout Lake Creek is 
considered a ``shoreline,'' and within the area occupied by Oregon 
spotted frogs, regulations for both Natural and Conservancy 
Environments apply. Within the Natural Environments, most activity 
types are prohibited, except for nonintensive pasturing or grazing, 
recreation (access trails/passive uses), bulkheads (conditional uses), 
and shoreline alterations (conditional). Within Conservancy 
Environments, most activities are conditionally allowed, and require a 
permit that must be reviewed and approved by Klickitat County and WDOE 
for consistency.
    Klickitat County's CAO was adopted in 2001 and amended in 2004. 
Mapping of critical areas was not available, so our analysis includes 
only wetlands provisions. Activities in all wetlands greater than 2,500 
square ft (232 square m) in size are regulated; however, some 
activities are exempted, including agricultural uses and maintenance of 
surface water systems (for example, irrigation and drainage ditches). 
These types of activities can destroy or modify Oregon spotted frog 
habitat. Buffers and mitigation are required, but can be adjusted by 
the county. In general, wetlands and the associated wetland buffer CAOs 
strive toward a no-management approach, which may result in the loss of 
Oregon spotted frog early seral stage habitat on a long-term basis. 
Within the areas occupied by Oregon spotted frogs in Klickitat County, 
all egg-laying habitat is within seasonally flooded areas, which may or 
may not be defined as wetlands. Rather than an avoidance strategy, 
these areas may require management actions to remove reed canarygrass 
in order to maintain egg-laying habitat. Within Klickitat County, 
protective measures for Oregon spotted frogs are afforded under both 
the SMP and CAOs, although no measures are specifically directed toward 
this species.
    Oregon--In Oregon, the Land Conservation and Development Commission 
in 1974 adopted Goal 5 as a broad statewide planning goal that covers 
more than a dozen resources, including wildlife habitats and natural 
areas. Goal 5 and related Oregon Administrative Rules (Chapter 660, 
Divisions 16 and 23) describe how cities and counties are to plan and 
zone land to conserve resources listed in the goal. Goal 5 is a 
required planning process that allows local governments to make 
decisions about land use regulations and whether to protect the 
individual resources based upon potential conflicts involving economic, 
social, environmental, and energy consequences. It does not require 
minimum levels of protections for natural resources, but does require 
weighing the various impacts to resources from land use.
    Counties in Oregon within the range of Oregon spotted frog may have 
zoning ordinances that reflect protections set forth during the Goal 5 
planning process. The following will briefly discuss these within each 
county where Oregon spotted frogs are currently known to occur.
    Deschutes County: In accordance with the State-wide planning 
process discussed above (State Regulations and Laws--Oregon), Deschutes 
County completed a Comprehensive Plan in 1979, which was updated in 
2011, although Oregon spotted frog habitat is not included within the 
Comprehensive Plan as a Goal 5 resource site. The Comprehensive Plan is 
implemented primarily through zoning. Deschutes County zoning 
ordinances that regulate the removal and fill of wetlands (18.128.270), 
development within the floodplain (18.96.100) and siting of structures 
within 100 ft (30 m) of streams may provide indirect protections to 
Oregon spotted frog habitat on private lands along the Upper and Little 
Deschutes Rivers. The Deschutes County zoning regulations do not 
regulate the draining of wetlands or hydrologic modifications, and the 
Oregon Division of State Lands (DSL) regulates only actions that 
involve more than 50 cubic yards (cy) (38 m\3\) of wetland removal. 
Therefore, development associated with small wetland removals is 
neither regulated under the Deschutes County Comprehensive Plan nor 
Oregon DSL (See DSL discussion above), which could negatively impact 
Oregon spotted frog habitat.
    Klamath County: Article 57 of the Klamath County Comprehensive Plan 
Policy (KCCPP) and associated Klamath County Development Code mandates 
provisions to preserve significant natural and cultural resources; 
address the economic, social, environmental, and energy consequences of 
conflicting uses upon significant natural and cultural resources; and 
permit development in a manner that does not adversely impact 
identified resource values (KCDC 2005, p. 197). This plan identifies 
significant wetlands, riparian areas, Class I streams, and fish habitat 
as a significant resource and identifies potentially conflicting uses 
including shoreline development or alteration, removal of riparian 
vegetation, filling or removing material, in-stream modification, 
introduction of pollutants, water impoundments, and drainage or 
channelization (KCCPP 2005, pp. 33-34, KCDC 2005, p. 199). All land 
uses that represent these conflicting uses are reviewed and applicants 
must clearly demonstrate that the proposed use will not negatively 
impact the resource (KCDC 2005, p. 200; KCCPP 2005, p. 25). However, 
all accepted farm

[[Page 53611]]

practices or forest practices are exempt from this provision (KCDC 
2005, p. 198), including (but not limited to) buildings, wineries, 
mineral exploration, and under certain circumstances, the establishment 
of golf courses and agricultural and commercial industries (KCDC 2005, 
pp. 160-163; 176-177). If any of these practices disturb less than 50 
cy (38.2 m\3\) of wetlands, they are not regulated by either KC CPP or 
Oregon DSL (See DSL discussion above). Therefore, the development 
associated with small wetland removals could negatively impact Oregon 
spotted frog habitat.
    Jackson County: No specific county regulations pertain to wetlands 
within Jackson County ordinances. This county relies on the Oregon DSL 
to regulate the development and protection of wetlands (see DSL 
discussion above) (Skyles 2012, pers. comm.).
Summary of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms
    The existing regulatory mechanisms described above are not 
sufficient to reduce or remove threats to the Oregon spotted frog 
habitat, particularly habitat loss and degradation. The lack of 
essential habitat protection under Federal, State, Provincial, and 
local laws leaves this species at continued risk of habitat loss and 
degradation in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. The review of 
impacts to wetlands under the Clean Water Act is minimal, and several 
occupied sub-basins in Washington and Oregon do not meet water quality 
standards. In many cases, laws and regulations that pertain to 
retention and restoration of wetland and riverine areas are designed to 
be beneficial to fish species, specifically salmonids, resulting in the 
unintentional elimination or degradation of Oregon spotted frog 
habitat. For example, CAOs in some Washington counties prohibit grazing 
within the riparian corridor, which is an active management technique 
used to control invasive reed canarygrass.
    Additional regulatory flexibility would be desirable for actively 
maintaining habitat in those areas essential for the conservation of 
Oregon spotted frog. We note that the area where these potential 
incompatibilities apply are limited in scope (i.e., approximately 5,000 
ac (2,000 ha) and 20 mi (33 km) along the Black Slough and Sumas, 
Samish, and Black Rivers in Washington), because the area inhabited by 
Oregon spotted frogs is quite small relative to the extensive range of 
salmonids. In other cases, no regulations address threats related to 
the draining or development of wetlands or hydrologic modifications, 
which can eliminate or degrade Oregon spotted frog habitat. In summary, 
degradation of habitat for the Oregon spotted frog is ongoing despite 
existing regulatory mechanisms. These regulatory mechanisms have been 
insufficient to significantly reduce or remove the threats to the 
Oregon spotted frog.

Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued 
Existence

Site Size and Isolation/Population Turnover Rates/Breeding Effort 
Concentrations and Site Fidelity
    Most species' populations fluctuate naturally in response to 
weather events, disease, predation, or other factors. These factors, 
however, have less impact on a species with a wide and continuous 
distribution. In addition, smaller, isolated populations are generally 
more likely to be extirpated by stochastic events and genetic drift 
(Lande 1988, pp. 1456-1458). Many of the Oregon spotted frog breeding 
locations comprise less than 50 adult frogs, are isolated from other 
breeding locations, and may already be stressed by other factors, such 
as drought or predation, and are then more vulnerable to random, 
naturally occurring events. Where Oregon spotted frog locations have 
small population sizes and are isolated, their vulnerability to 
extirpation from factors such as fluctuating water levels, disease, and 
predation increases.
    Funk et al. (2008, p. 205) found low genetic variation in Oregon 
spotted frogs, which likely reflects small effective population sizes, 
historical or current genetic bottlenecks, and/or low gene flow among 
populations. Genetic work by Blouin et al. (2010) indicates low genetic 
diversity within and high genetic differentiation among each of the six 
Oregon spotted frog groups (British Columbia, Chehalis and Columbia 
drainages, Camas Prairie, central Oregon Cascades, and the Klamath 
Basin). This pattern of genetic fragmentation is likely caused by low 
connectivity between sites and naturally small populations sizes. Gene 
flow is very limited between locations, especially if separated by 6 mi 
(10 km) or more, and at the larger scale, genetic groups have the 
signature of complete isolation (Blouin et al. 2010, p. 2187). At least 
two of the locations sampled by Blouin et al. (2010) (Camas Prairie and 
Trout Lake) show indications of recent genetic drift.
    Modeling across a variety of amphibian taxa suggests that pond-
breeding frogs have high temporal variances of population abundances 
and high local extinction rates relative to other groups of amphibians, 
with smaller frog populations undergoing disproportionately large 
fluctuations in abundance (Green 2003, pp. 339-341). The vulnerability 
of Oregon spotted frog egg masses to fluctuating water levels (Hayes et 
al. 2000, pp. 10-12; Pearl and Bury 2000, p. 10), the vulnerability of 
post-metamorphic stages to predation (Hayes 1994, p. 25), and low 
overwintering survival (Hallock and Pearson 2001, p. 8) can contribute 
to relatively rapid population turnovers, suggesting Oregon spotted 
frogs are particularly vulnerable to local extirpations from stochastic 
events and chronic sources of mortality (Pearl and Hayes 2004, p. 11). 
The term ``rapid population turnovers'' refers to disproportionately 
large fluctuations in abundance.
    Oregon spotted frogs concentrate their breeding efforts in 
relatively few locations (Hayes et al. 2000, pp. 5-6; McAllister and 
White 2001, p. 11). For example, Hayes et al. (2000, pp. 5-6) found 
that 2 percent of breeding sites accounted for 19 percent of the egg 
masses at the Conboy Lake NWR. Similar breeding concentrations have 
been found elsewhere in Washington and in Oregon. Moreover, Oregon 
spotted frogs exhibit relatively high fidelity to breeding locations, 
using the same seasonal pools every year and often using the same egg-
laying sites. In years of extremely high or low water, the frogs may 
use alternative sites. For example, the Trout Lake Creek and Conboy 
Lake frogs return to traditional breeding areas every year, but the 
egg-laying sites change based on water depth at the time of breeding. A 
stochastic event that impacts any one of these breeding locations could 
significantly reduce the Oregon spotted frog population associated with 
that sub-basin.
    Egg mass count data suggests a positive correlation and significant 
link between site size and Oregon spotted frog breeding population size 
(Pearl and Hayes 2004, p. 12). Larger sites are more likely to provide 
the seasonal microhabitats required by Oregon spotted frogs, have a 
more reliable prey base, and include overwintering habitat. The minimum 
amount of habitat thought to be required to maintain an Oregon spotted 
frog population is about 10 ac (4 ha) (Hayes 1994, Part II pp. 5 and 
7). Smaller sites generally have a small number of frogs and, as 
described above, are more vulnerable to extirpation. Some sites in 
Oregon are at or below the 10-ac (4-ha) threshold; however, Pearl and 
Hayes (2004, p. 14)

[[Page 53612]]

believe that these sites were historically subpopulations within a 
larger breeding complex and Oregon spotted frogs may only be persisting 
in these small sites because the sites exchange migrants or seasonal 
habitat needs are provided nearby.
    Movement studies suggest Oregon spotted frogs are limited in their 
overland dispersal and potential to recolonize sites. Most Oregon 
spotted frog movements are associated with aquatic connections (Watson 
et al. 2003, p. 295; Pearl and Hayes 2004, p. 15). However, within 10 
of the 15 occupied sub-basins, one or more of the known breeding 
locations are isolated and separated by at least 3.1 mi (5 km) (see 
Life History) and within 9 of the 15 sub-basins, one or more of the 
known breeding locations are isolated and separated by at least 6 mi 
(10 km), the distance over which gene flow is extremely low (see 
Taxonomy). In many instances the intervening habitat lacks the 
substantial hydrological connections that would allow Oregon spotted 
frog movement. In addition, widespread predaceous fish introductions 
within these corridors pose a very high risk to frogs that do try to 
move between known locations. Therefore, should a stochastic event 
occur that results in the extirpation of an area, natural 
recolonization is unlikely unless another known location is 
hydrologically connected and within 3.1 mi (5 km).
    In British Columbia, the distance between the Morris Valley, 
Mountain Slough, and Maria Slough locations is about 8 km and each of 
these locations is 50-60 km from Maintenance Detachment Aldergrove, 
making all of the known populations isolated from one another (COSFRT 
2012, p. 15). In addition, suitable wetland habitat between any two of 
these locations is highly fragmented, and movement between populations 
is unlikely to occur. Based on this information and the small number of 
breeding individuals (less than 350), the Canadian Oregon spotted frog 
recovery team found that the risk from demographic and environmental 
stochastic events is high and could result in further local 
extirpations (COSFRT 2012, p. v).
    In five of the six extant sub-basins in Washington, Oregon spotted 
frogs are restricted to one watershed within the sub-basin. Within four 
of these sub-basins (South Fork Nooksack, Samish, White Salmon, and 
Middle Klickitat Rivers), the known egg-laying locations are 
aquatically connected, such that movements could occur and facilitate 
genetic exchange. In the Lower Chilliwack, Oregon spotted frogs are 
currently known to occur from only one egg-laying location in one 
watershed (Sumas River). There may be additional locations within 3.1 
mi (5 km) that are aquatically connected, but further surveys would be 
needed in order to make this determination. In the Black River, known 
egg-laying locations occur along the mainstem, as well as in six 
tributaries. Oregon spotted frogs in Fish Pond Creek are likely 
isolated from Oregon spotted frogs in the rest of the Black River 
system due to changes in the outflow of Black Lake. Black Lake Ditch 
was constructed in 1922, and a pipeline at the outlet of the Black Lake 
to Black River was constructed in the 1960s; both of these structures 
changed the flow such that Black Lake drains to the north, except 
during high flows rather than down the Black River as it did 
historically (Foster Wheeler Environmental Corporation 2003, pp. 2, 3, 
5, 24). Oregon spotted frogs in the other five tributaries may also be 
isolated from each other because there is little evidence that the 
frogs use the Black River to move between tributaries, although egg-
laying locations in these tributaries are aquatically connected via the 
Black River.
    In Oregon, two of the eight extant sub-basins contain single, 
isolated populations of Oregon spotted frogs: Lower Deschutes River 
(i.e., Camas Prairie) and Middle Fork Willamette River (i.e., Gold 
Lake). The McKenzie River sub-basin contains two populations of Oregon 
spotted frogs that are in close proximity but have no apparent 
hydrologic connection to each other or to populations in other sub-
basins. In the Deschutes River Basin, Oregon spotted frog egg-laying 
sites are found throughout two sub-basins: the Upper Deschutes River 
and the Little Deschutes River. These two sub-basins are aquatically 
connected at the confluence of the Little Deschutes River and the 
mainstem Deschutes River below Wickiup Reservoir. Genetic exchange 
likely occurs between Oregon spotted frogs on the lower reach of the 
Little Deschutes River and those along the Deschutes River at Sunriver 
where breeding occurs within 3.1 mi (5 km). The Wickiup dam and 
regulated flows out of the reservoir limit connectivity for Oregon 
spotted frogs to move within the Upper Deschutes River sub-basin, such 
that connectivity between the populations above and below the dam are 
unlikely. Only four egg-laying locations occur below Wickiup Reservoir, 
two of which are within 6 mi (10 km) but separated by a waterfall along 
the Deschutes River. Above Wickiup Reservoir, there are approximately 
six clusters of egg-laying sites that may be isolated from each other 
by lack of hydrologic connectivity (i.e., lakes without outlets) or 
distances greater than 6 mi (10 km).
    In the Little Deschutes River sub-basin, approximately 23 known 
egg-laying locations are within five watersheds: Upper, Middle and 
Lower Little Deschutes River; Crescent Creek; and Long Prairie. Most 
egg-laying locations throughout the Little Deschutes River sub-basin 
are within 6 mi (10 km) of each other, and, given that much of the 
private land is unsurveyed, the distance between breeding areas is 
likely smaller. In the lower reach of the Little Deschutes River near 
the confluence with the Deschutes River where more extensive surveys 
have been conducted, egg-laying sites are within 3.1 mi (5 km). Wetland 
complexes are extensive and continuous along the Little Deschutes River 
and its tributaries, which likely provides connectivity between 
breeding areas. Regulated flows out of Crescent Lake may affect the 
aquatic connectivity between egg-laying locations, although the impacts 
to Oregon spotted frog connectivity are not fully understood. The Long 
Prairie watershed also has been hydrologically altered by the 
historical draining of wetlands and ditching to supply irrigation 
water. Connectivity between three known egg-laying locations within 
this watershed is likely affected by the timing and duration of 
regulated flows, and historic ditching for irrigation.
    Oregon spotted frogs are found in six watersheds within three sub-
basins of the Klamath River Basin in Oregon (Williamson River, Upper 
Klamath Lake, and Upper Klamath). Within the Williamson River sub-
basin, individuals in the Jack Creek watershed are isolated from other 
populations due to lack of hydrologic connectivity. The Klamath Marsh 
and Upper Williamson populations are aquatically connected such that 
movements could occur and facilitate genetic exchange, although this 
presumed gene flow has not been demonstrated by recent genetic work 
(Robertson and Funk 2012, p. 10).
    The Upper Klamath Lake sub-basin populations are found in two 
watersheds: Wood River and Klamath Lake. Populations within and 
adjacent to the Wood River are aquatically connected and genetically 
similar (Robertson and Funk 2012, p. 10). However, while the Wood River 
populations and the Klamath Lake populations have genetic similarities 
(Robertson and Funk 2012, p. 10, 11), altered hydrologic connections,

[[Page 53613]]

distances (>6 mi (terrestrial) (10km)), and invasive species, have 
created inhospitable habitat. These conditions make it unlikely that 
individual frogs are able to move between watersheds or establish 
additional breeding complexes along the current hydrologic system. The 
only potential for hydrologic connectivity and movement between 
populations in the Klamath Lake populations is between Sevenmile Creek 
and Crane Creek, and between the individual breeding complexes on the 
Wood River in the Wood River watershed. The Upper Klamath sub-basin's 
Parsnip Lakes and Buck Lake populations are isolated from each other 
and the other Klamath Basin populations (Robertson and Funk 2012, p. 5) 
due to great hydrological distances (> 20 mi (32 km)) and barriers 
(inhospitable habitat and dams).
    Site size and isolation/population turnover rates/breeding effort 
concentrations and site fidelity conclusion-- Historically, Oregon 
spotted frogs were likely distributed throughout a watershed, occurred 
in multiple watersheds within a sub-basin, and adjusted their breeding 
areas as natural disturbances, such as flood events and beaver 
activity, shifted the location and amount of appropriate habitat. 
Currently, Oregon spotted frogs are restricted in their range within 
most occupied sub-basins (in some cases only occurring in one 
watershed), and breeding areas are isolated (greater than dispersal 
distance apart). Many of the Oregon spotted frog breeding locations 
across the range comprise less than 50 adult frogs and are isolated 
from other breeding locations. Genetic work indicates low genetic 
diversity within and high genetic differentiation among the six Oregon 
spotted frog groups. Each of these groups have the signature of 
complete isolation, and two show indications of recent genetic drift (a 
change in the gene pool of a small population that takes place strictly 
by chance). Oregon spotted frogs can experience rapid population 
turnovers because of their breeding location fidelity and vulnerability 
to fluctuating water levels, predation, and low overwinter survival. A 
stochastic event at any one of these small, isolated breeding locations 
could significantly reduce the Oregon spotted frog population 
associated with that sub-basin. Therefore, based on the best 
information available, we consider small site size and isolation and 
small population sizes to be a threat to the Oregon spotted frog.
Water Quality and Contamination
    Poor water quality and water contamination are playing a role in 
the decline of Oregon spotted frogs, and water quality concerns have 
been specifically noted within six of the occupied sub-basins (see 
Table 2 and Factor D), although data specific to this species are 
limited. Because of this limitation, we have examined responses by 
similar amphibians as a surrogate for impacts on Oregon spotted frogs. 
Studies comparing responses of amphibians to other aquatic species have 
demonstrated that amphibians are as sensitive as, and often more 
sensitive than, other species when exposed to aquatic contaminants 
(Boyer and Grue 1995, p. 353). Immature amphibians absorb contaminants 
during respiration through the skin and gills. They may also ingest 
contaminated prey. Pesticides, heavy metals, nitrates and nitrites, and 
other contaminants introduced into the aquatic environment from urban 
and agricultural areas are known to negatively affect various life 
stages of a wide range of amphibian species, including ranid frogs 
(Hayes and Jennings 1986, p. 497; Boyer and Grue 1995, pp. 353-354; 
Hecnar 1995, pp. 2133-2135; Materna et al. 1995, pp. 616-618; NBII 
2005, Mann et al. 2009, p. 2904). Exposure to pesticides can lower an 
individual's immune function, which increases the risk of disease or 
possible malformation (Stark 2005, p. 21; Mann et al. 2009 pp. 2905, 
2909). In addition, it has been demonstrated that some chemicals reduce 
growth and delay development.
    A reduction of growth or development would prolong an individual's 
larval period, thus making it more susceptible to predators for a 
longer period of time or resulting in immobility during periods of time 
when movement between habitats may be necessary (Mann et al. 2009, p. 
2906). Many of the described effects from pesticides described are 
sublethal but ultimately may result in the mortality of the exposed 
individuals as described above. Furthermore, the results of several 
studies have suggested that, while the impacts of individual chemicals 
on amphibians are sublethal, a combination or cocktail of a variety of 
chemicals may be lethal (Mann et al. 2009, p. 2913; Bishop et al. 2010, 
p. 1602). The use of pesticides may be occurring throughout the range 
of the Oregon spotted frog due to the species' overlap with 
agricultural and urban environments; however, information regarding the 
extent, methods of application, and amounts applied are not available. 
Therefore, we are unable to make an affirmative determination at this 
time that pesticides are a threat.
    Methoprene, a chemical widely applied to wetlands for mosquito 
control, was historically linked to abnormalities in southern leopard 
frogs (Lithobates utricularia), including completely or partially 
missing hind limbs, discoloration, and missing eyes. Missing eyes and 
delayed development in northern cricket frogs (Acris crepitans) have 
also been linked to methoprene (Stark 2005, p. 20). However, a recent 
scientific literature review suggests that methoprene is not ultimately 
responsible for frog malformations (Mann et al. 2009, pp. 2906-2907). 
The findings of this review suggest that, in order for malformations to 
occur, the concentration of chemical in the water would induce 
mortality (Mann et al. 2009, p. 2906). Therefore, based on the best 
available information, we do not consider methoprene to be a threat to 
Oregon spotted frogs.
    Although the effects on amphibians of rotenone, which is used to 
remove undesirable fish from lakes, are poorly understood, mortality 
likely occurs at treatment levels used on fish (McAllister et al. 1999, 
p. 21). The role of rotenone treatments in the disappearance of Oregon 
spotted frogs from historical sites is unknown; however, some studies 
indicate that amphibians might be less sensitive than fish and might be 
capable of recovering from exposure to rotenone (Mullin et al. 2004, 
pp. 305-306; Walston and Mullin 2007, p. 65). However, these studies 
did not measure the effects on highly aquatic amphibians, like the 
Oregon spotted frog. In fall of 2011, ODFW used rotenone to remove 
goldfish from a small pond adjacent to Crane Prairie Reservoir. In 
April 2012, approximately 40 spotted frog egg masses were located in 
the pond, where there had been no prior record of Oregon spotted frog 
occupancy in the past (Wray 2012, pers. comm.). No rotenone treatments 
in Cascade lakes occupied by Oregon spotted frog are planned in the 
near future (Hodgson 2012, pers. comm.), and to date, in the Upper 
Klamath Lake sub-basin, no fish killing agents have been applied within 
Oregon spotted frog habitat (Banish 2012, pers. comm.). Therefore, 
based on the best available information, we do not consider rotenone to 
be a threat to Oregon spotted frogs.
    Water acidity (low pH) can inhibit fertilization and embryonic 
development in amphibians, reduce their growth and survival through 
physiological alterations, and produce developmental anomalies (Hayes 
and Jennings 1986, pp. 498-499; Boyer and

[[Page 53614]]

Grue 1995, p. 353). A low pH may enhance the effects of other factors, 
such as activating heavy metals in sediments. An elevated pH, acting 
singly or in combination with other factors such as low dissolved 
oxygen, high water temperatures, and elevated un-ionized ammonia 
levels, may have detrimental effects on developing frog embryos (Boyer 
and Grue 1995, p. 354).
    Marco et al. (1999, p. 2838) demonstrated the strong sensitivity of 
Oregon spotted frog tadpoles to nitrate and nitrite ions, and suggested 
that nitrogen-based chemical fertilizers may have contributed to the 
species' decline in the lowland areas of its distribution. Recommended 
levels of nitrates and nitrites in drinking water are moderately to 
highly toxic for Oregon spotted frogs, indicating that EPA water 
quality standards do not protect sensitive amphibian species (Marco et 
al. 1999, p. 2838). In the Marco et al. study, Oregon spotted frog 
tadpoles did not show a rapid adverse effect to nitrate ions, but at 
day 15 of exposure they reflected high sensitivity followed by 
synchronous death. Many public water supplies in the United States 
contain levels of nitrate that routinely exceed concentrations of 10 
milligrams of nitrate per liter (mg/L); the median lethal 
concentrations for aquatic larvae of the Oregon spotted frog is less 
than 10 mg/L (Marco et al. 1999, p. 2838).
    In Washington, portions of the Sumas River; Black Slough in the 
S.F. Nooksack sub-basin; portions of the Samish River; segments of the 
Black River; segments of Dempsey, Allen, and Beaver Creeks in the Black 
River sub-basin; and a segment in the upper portion of Trout Lake Creek 
are listed by the Washington Department of Ecology as not meeting water 
quality standards for a variety of parameters, including temperature, 
fecal coliform, pH, and dissolved oxygen. In Oregon, many of the 
streams associated with Oregon spotted frog habitat are listed by the 
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality as not meeting water quality 
standards for multiple parameters: (1) Little Deschutes River--
temperature, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll A, pH, aquatic weeds or 
algae; (2) Deschutes River--temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, 
sedimentation; (3) Middle Fork Willamette River--sedimentation; (4) 
Upper Klamath--temperature; and (5) Williamson River--sedimentation.
    Johnson and Chase (2004, p. 522) point to elevated levels of 
nutrients (particularly phosphorus) from agricultural fertilizers and 
cattle grazing in freshwater ecosystems as causing shifts in the 
composition of aquatic snails from small species to larger species. 
These larger species serve as intermediate hosts for a parasite 
(Ribeiroia ondatrae), which causes malformations in amphibians (see 
Disease above). Elevated sources of nutrient inputs into river and 
wetland systems can also result in eutrophic (nutrient-rich) 
conditions, characterized by blooms of algae that can produce a high pH 
and low dissolved oxygen. Increased eutrophic conditions in the Upper 
Klamath Lake sub-basin may have contributed to the absence of Oregon 
spotted frogs. Beginning in 2002, algal blooms, poor water quality, and 
low dissolved oxygen were documented in Jack Creek, during which a 
decline in Oregon spotted frog reproduction was also documented 
(Oertley 2005, pers. comm.). Although more research is needed, Johnson 
et al. (2002a; Johnson and Chase 2004) state that eutrophication 
associated with elevated nitrogen (and phosphorus) has been linked with 
increased snail populations, which in turn can be linked to parasites 
that use frogs such as the Oregon spotted frog as alternate hosts (see 
discussion under ``Disease and Predation'' above for additional 
information).
    In British Columbia, Oregon spotted frogs at Morris Valley, 
Mountain Slough, and Maria Slough are in largely agricultural areas. 
Agricultural runoff includes fertilizers (including manure), and runoff 
or percolation into the ground water from manure piles (Rouse et al. 
1999), and spraying of agricultural chemicals such as pesticides or 
insecticides (including Btk, or Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium) or 
fungicides (used by blueberry producers), including wind-borne 
chemicals. Water-borne sewage and non-point source runoff from housing 
and urban areas that include nutrients, toxic chemicals, and/or 
sediments may also be increasing in intensity. Additional sources of 
contaminants may include chemical spraying during forestry activities, 
maintenance of power line corridors, or disruption of normal movements 
of nutrients by forestry activities (Canadian Recovery Strategy 
(COSFRS) 2012, p. 21). The COSFRS (2012, p. 17) identifies pollution 
associated with agricultural and forestry effluents as being (1) high 
impact; (2) large in scope; (3) serious in severity; (4) high in 
timing, and (5) a stress that has direct and indirect mortality 
results. One of the recovery objectives is to coordinate with the 
Minister of Agriculture to implement supporting farming practices and 
environmental farm plans options to decrease agrochemical and nutrient 
pollution into Oregon spotted frog habitat and work with all levels of 
government, land managers, and private landowners to inform and 
encourage best practices and ensure compliance in relation to water 
quality, hydrology, and land use practice (COSFRS 2012, p. 34).
    Water quality and contamination conclusion--Although pesticides 
could be a threat to the Oregon spotted frog, those threats are 
undetermined at this time. Oregon spotted frogs are highly aquatic 
throughout their life cycle, and are thus likely to experience extended 
exposure to waterborne contaminants. Poor water quality parameters and 
contaminants may act singly or in combination with other factors to 
result in inhibited fertilization and embryonic development, 
developmental anomalies, or reduced growth and survival. Many public 
water supplies in the United States contain levels of nitrates that 
routinely exceed lethal concentrations for aquatic larvae of the Oregon 
spotted frog, and reduced water quality is documented in a number of 
occupied sub-basins. Although more work on the species' ecotoxicology 
is warranted, based on the best information available, we consider 
water quality and contamination to be a threat to the Oregon spotted 
frog across the range.
Hybridization
    Hybridization between Oregon spotted frogs and closely related frog 
species is unlikely to affect the survival of the Oregon spotted frog. 
Natural hybridization between Oregon spotted frogs and Cascade frogs 
has been demonstrated experimentally and verified in nature (Haertel 
and Storm 1970, pp. 436-444; Green 1985, p. 263). However, the 
offspring are infertile, and the two species seldom occur together. 
Hybridization between Oregon spotted frogs and red-legged frogs has 
also been confirmed (I.C. Phillipsen, K. McAllister, and M. Hayes 
unpublished data), but it is unknown if the hybrids are fertile. 
Because, Oregon spotted frog and Columbia spotted frog populations are 
not known to occur together, based on the best available information, 
we do not consider hybridization to be a threat to Oregon spotted 
frogs.
Climate Change
    Our analyses under the Endangered Species Act include consideration 
of ongoing and projected changes in climate. The terms ``climate'' and 
``climate change'' are defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on 
Climate Change (IPCC). The term ``climate'' refers to the mean and 
variability of different types of weather conditions over time, with 30 
years being a typical period for such measurements, although

[[Page 53615]]

shorter or longer periods also may be used (IPCC 2007a, p. 78). The 
term ``climate change'' thus refers to a change in the mean or 
variability of one or more measures of climate (e.g., temperature or 
precipitation) that persists for an extended period, typically decades 
or longer, whether the change is due to natural variability, human 
activity, or both (IPCC 2007a, p. 78).
    Scientific measurements spanning several decades demonstrate that 
changes in climate are occurring, and that the rate of change has been 
faster since the 1950s. Examples include warming of the global climate 
system, and substantial increases in precipitation in some regions of 
the world and decreases in other regions. (For these and other 
examples, see IPCC 2007a, p. 30; and Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 35-54, 
82-85). Results of scientific analyses presented by the IPCC show that 
most of the observed increase in global average temperature since the 
mid-20th century cannot be explained by natural variability in climate, 
and is ``very likely'' (defined by the IPCC as 90 percent or higher 
probability) due to the observed increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) 
concentrations in the atmosphere as a result of human activities, 
particularly carbon dioxide emissions from use of fossil fuels (IPCC 
2007a, pp. 5-6 and figures SPM.3 and SPM.4; Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 
21-35). Further confirmation of the role of GHGs comes from analyses by 
Huber and Knutti (2011, p. 4), who concluded it is extremely likely 
that approximately 75 percent of global warming since 1950 has been 
caused by human activities.
    Scientists use a variety of climate models, which include 
consideration of natural processes and variability, as well as various 
scenarios of potential levels and timing of GHG emissions, to evaluate 
the causes of changes already observed and to project future changes in 
temperature and other climate conditions (e.g., Meehl et al. 2007, 
entire; Ganguly et al. 2009, pp. 11555, 15558; Prinn et al. 2011, pp. 
527, 529). All combinations of models and emissions scenarios yield 
very similar projections of increases in the most common measure of 
climate change, average global surface temperature (commonly known as 
global warming), until about 2030. Although projections of the 
magnitude and rate of warming differ after about 2030, the overall 
trajectory of all the projections is one of increased global warming 
through the end of this century, even for the projections based on 
scenarios that assume that GHG emissions will stabilize or decline. 
Thus, strong scientific data support projections that warming will 
continue through the 21st century, and that the magnitude and rate of 
change will be influenced substantially by the extent of GHG emissions 
(IPCC 2007a, pp. 44-45; Meehl et al. 2007, pp. 760-764 and 797-811; 
Ganguly et al. 2009, pp. 15555-15558; Prinn et al. 2011, pp. 527, 529). 
(See IPCC 2007b, p. 8, for a summary of other global projections of 
climate-related changes, such as frequency of heat waves and changes in 
precipitation. Also see IPCC 2012 (entire) for a summary of 
observations and projections of extreme climate events.)
    Various changes in climate may have direct or indirect effects on 
species. These effects may be positive, neutral, or negative, and they 
may change over time, depending on the species and other relevant 
considerations, such as interactions of climate with other variables 
(e.g., habitat fragmentation) (IPCC 2007, pp. 8-14, 18-19). Identifying 
likely effects often involves aspects of climate change vulnerability 
analysis. Vulnerability refers to the degree to which a species (or 
system) is susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse effects of 
climate change, including climate variability and extremes. 
Vulnerability is a function of the type, magnitude, and rate of climate 
change and variation to which a species is exposed, its sensitivity, 
and its adaptive capacity (IPCC 2007a, p. 89; see also Glick et al. 
2011, pp. 19-22). No single method for conducting such analyses applies 
to all situations (Glick et al. 2011, p. 3). We use our expert judgment 
and appropriate analytical approaches to weigh relevant information, 
including uncertainty, in our consideration of various aspects of 
climate change.
    As is the case with all stressors that we assess, even if we 
conclude that a species is currently affected or is likely to be 
affected in a negative way by one or more climate-related impacts, the 
species does not necessarily meet the definition of an ``endangered 
species'' or a ``threatened species'' under the Act. If a species is 
listed as an endangered or threatened species, knowledge regarding the 
vulnerability of the species to, and known or anticipated impacts from, 
climate-associated changes in environmental conditions can be used to 
help devise appropriate strategies for its recovery.
    Global climate projections are informative, and, in some cases, the 
only or the best scientific information available for us to use. 
However, projected changes in climate and related impacts can vary 
substantially across and within different regions of the world (e.g., 
IPCC 2007a, pp. 8-12). Therefore, we use ``downscaled'' projections 
when they are available and have been developed through appropriate 
scientific procedures, because such projections provide higher 
resolution information that is more relevant to spatial scales used for 
analyses of a given species (see Glick et al. 2011, pp. 58-61, for a 
discussion of downscaling). With regard to our analysis for the Oregon 
spotted frog, downscaled projections are available.
    The climate in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) has already experienced 
a warming of 0.8 degrees Celsius (C) (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (F)) 
during the 20th century (Mote et al. 2008, p.3). Using output from 
eight climate models the PNW is projected to warm further by 0.6 to 1.9 
degrees C (1.1 to 3.4 degrees F) by the 2020s, and 0.9 to 2.9 degrees C 
(1.6 to 5.2 degrees F) by the 2040s (Mote et al. 2008, pp. 5-6). 
Additionally, the majority of models project wetter winters and drier 
summers (Mote et al. 2008, p.7), and of greatest consequence, a 
reduction in regional snowpack, which supplies water for ecosystems 
during the dry summer (Mote et al. 2003). The small summertime 
precipitation increases projected by a minority of models do not change 
the fundamentally dry summers of the PNW and do not lessen the 
increased drying of the soil column brought by higher temperatures 
(Mote et al. 2003, p. 8).
    Watersheds that are rain dominated (such as the Fraser River in 
British Columbia and the Black River in Washington) will likely 
experience higher winter streamflow because of increases in average 
winter precipitation, but overall will experience relatively little 
change with respect to streamflow timing (Elsner et al. 2010, p. 248). 
Water temperatures for western Washington are generally cooler than 
those in the interior Columbia basin; however, climate change 
predictions indicate the summertime stream temperatures exceeding 19.5 
degrees C (67.1 degrees F) will increase, although by a smaller 
fraction than the increases in the interior Columbia basin (Mantua et 
al. 2010, p. 199).
    Transient basins (mixed rain- and snowmelt-dominant usually in mid 
elevations, such as Lower Chilliwack, SF Nooksack, White Salmon, and 
Middle Klickitat Rivers sub-basins in Washington) will likely 
experience significant shifts in streamflow and water temperature, 
becoming rain dominant as winter precipitation falls more as rain and 
less as snow, and undergo more severe summer low-flow periods and more 
frequent days with intense winter flooding (Elsner et al.

[[Page 53616]]

2010, pp. 248, 252, 255; Mantua et al. 2010, entire).
    Snowmelt-dominated watersheds, such as White Salmon in Washington 
and the Upper Deschutes, Little Deschutes, and Klamath River sub-basins 
in Oregon, will likely become transient, resulting in reduced peak 
spring streamflow, increased winter streamflow, and reduced late summer 
flow (Littell et al. 2009, p. 8). In snowmelt-dominated watersheds that 
prevail in the higher altitude catchments and in much of the interior 
Columbia Basin, flood risk will likely decrease and summer low flows 
will decrease in most rivers under most scenarios (Littell et al. 2009, 
p. 13).
    In Washington, the snow water equivalent measured on April 1 is 
projected to decrease by 28 to 30 percent across the State by the 
2020s, 38 to 46 percent by the 2040s, and 56 to 70 percent by the 
2080s, and the areas with elevations below 3,280 ft (1,000 m) will 
experience the largest decreases in snowpack, with reductions of 68 to 
80 percent by the 2080s (Elsner et al. 2010, p. 244). In the Puget 
Trough sub-basins, summertime soil moisture will decrease as a result 
of the warming climate and reduced snowpack. While annual precipitation 
is projected to slightly increase across the State, by 3.4 percent by 
the 2080s, the seasonality of the precipitation will change more 
dramatically with increased winter and decreased summer precipitation, 
with most of the precipitation falling between October and March 
(Elsner et al. 2010, p. 247).
    Climate change models predict that water temperatures will rise 
throughout Oregon as air temperatures increase into the 21st century. A 
decline in summer stream flow may exacerbate water temperature 
increases as the lower volume of water absorbs solar radiation (Chang 
and Jones, p. 134).
    Analyses of the hydrologic responses of the upper Deschutes basin 
(including the Upper and Little Deschutes River sub-basins) and the 
Klamath Basin to climate change scenarios indicates that the form of 
precipitation will shift from predominately snow to rain and cause 
decreasing spring recharge and runoff and increasing winter recharge 
and runoff (Waibel 2011, pp., 57-60; Mayer and Naman 2011, p. 3). 
However, there is spatial variation within the Deschutes sub-basins as 
to where the greatest increases in recharge and runoff will occur 
(Waibel 2011, pp., 57-60). Changes in seasonality of stream flows may 
be less affected by climate change along the crest of the Cascades in 
the upper watersheds of the Deschutes, Klamath, and Willamette River 
basins in Oregon, where many rivers receive groundwater recharge from 
subterranean aquifers and springs (Chang and Jones 2010, p. 107). 
Summer stream flows may thus be sustained in High Cascade basins that 
are groundwater fed (Chang and Jones 2010, p. 134). Conversely, Mayer 
and Naman (2011 p. 1) indicate that streamflow into Upper Klamath Lake 
will display absolute decreases in July-September base flows in 
groundwater basins as compared to surface-dominated basins. This 
earlier discharge of water in the spring will result in less streamflow 
in the summer (Mayer and Naman 2011, p. 12).
    Although predictions of climate change impacts do not specifically 
address Oregon spotted frogs, short- and long-term changes in 
precipitation patterns and temperature regimes will likely affect wet 
periods, winter snow pack, and flooding events (Chang and Jones 2010). 
These changes are likely to affect amphibians through a variety of 
direct and indirect pathways, such as range shifts, breeding success, 
survival, dispersal, breeding phenology, aquatic habitats availability 
and quality, food webs, competition, spread of diseases, and the 
interplay among these factors (Blaustein et al. 2010 entire; Hixon et 
al. 2010, p. 274; Corn 2003 entire). Amphibians have species-specific 
temperature tolerances, and exceeding these thermal thresholds is 
expected to reduce survival (Blaustein et al. 2010, pp. 286-287). 
Earlier spring thaws and warmer ambient temperatures may result in 
earlier breeding, especially at lower elevations in the mountains where 
breeding phenology is driven more by snow pack than by air temperature 
(Corn 2003, p. 624). Shifts in breeding phenology may also result in 
sharing breeding habitat with species not previously encountered and/or 
new competitive interactions and predator/prey dynamics (Blaustein et 
al. 2010. pp. 288, 294). Oregon spotted frogs are highly aquatic and 
reductions in summer flows may result in summer habitat going dry, 
potentially resulting in increased mortality or forcing frogs to seek 
shelter in lower quality wetted areas where they are more susceptible 
to predation.
    Amphibians are susceptible to many types of pathogens including 
trematodes, copepods, fungi, oomycetes, bacteria, and viruses. Changes 
in temperature and precipitation could alter host-pathogen interactions 
and/or result in range shifts resulting in either beneficial or 
detrimental impacts on the amphibian host (Blaustein et al. 2010, p. 
296). Kiesecker et al. (2001a, p. 682) indicate climate change events, 
such as El Nino/Southern Oscillation, that result in less precipitation 
and reduced water depths at egg-laying sites results in high mortality 
of embryos because their exposure to UV-B and vulnerability to 
infection (such as Saprolegnia) is increased. Warmer temperatures and 
less freezing in areas occupied by bullfrogs is likely to increase 
bullfrog winter survivorship, thereby increasing the threat from 
predation. Uncertainty about climate change impacts does not mean that 
impacts may or may not occur; it means that the risks of a given impact 
are difficult to quantify (Schneider and Kuntz-Duriseti 2002, p. 54; 
Congressional Budget Office 2005, entire; Halsnaes et al. 2007, p. 
129). Oregon spotted frogs occupy habitats at a wide range of 
elevations, and all of the occupied sub-basins are likely to experience 
precipitation regime shifts; therefore, the Oregon spotted frog's 
response to climate change is likely to vary across the range and the 
population-level impacts are uncertain. The interplay between Oregon 
spotted frogs and their aquatic habitat will ultimately determine their 
population response to climate change. Despite the potential for future 
climate change throughout the range of the species, as discussed above, 
we have not identified, nor are we aware of any data on, an appropriate 
scale to evaluate habitat or population trends for the Oregon spotted 
frog or to make predictions about future trends and whether the species 
will be significantly impacted.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Other Natural or Manmade Factors 
Affecting Its Continued Existence
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health 
Inspection Service (APHIS), maintains voluntary agreements with private 
landowners to apply pesticides within the United States. Based on their 
2010 Operational Procedures, all water bodies (rivers, ponds, 
reservoirs, streams, vernal pools, wetlands, etc.) will be avoided by a 
minimum of a 50-foot buffer for ground application of bait, a 200-foot 
buffer for aerial application of bait, and a 500-foot buffer for the 
aerial application of liquids (USDA APHIS 2010 Treatment Guidelines, p. 
4). As previously described under other threat factors, conservation 
efforts may also help reduce the threat of other natural or manmade 
factors affecting the species.
Summary of Other Natural or Manmade Factors
    Many of the Oregon spotted frog breeding locations are small and 
isolated from other breeding locations. Moreover, due to their fidelity 
to breeding locations and vulnerability to

[[Page 53617]]

fluctuating water levels, predation, and low overwinter survival, 
Oregon spotted frogs can experience rapid population turnovers that 
they may not be able to overcome. Genetic work indicates low genetic 
diversity within and high genetic differentiation among the six Oregon 
spotted frog groups identified by Blouin, and each of these groups has 
the signature of complete isolation with two groups showing indications 
of recent genetic drift. Poor water quality parameters and contaminants 
may act singly or in combination with other factors to result in 
inhibited fertilization and embryonic development, developmental 
anomalies, or reduced growth and survival. Oregon spotted frogs in 
every occupied sub-basin are subject to more than one stressor, such as 
loss or reduced quality of habitat and predation and, therefore, may be 
more susceptible to mortality and sublethal effects. The changing 
climate may exacerbate these stressors. Therefore, based on the best 
information available, we conclude that other natural or manmade 
factors are a threat to the Oregon spotted frog, which has significant 
population effects occurring throughout the entire (current) range of 
the species and expected to continue into the future.

Cumulative Effects From Factors A Through E

    The Oregon spotted frog faces several threats, and all occupied 
sub-basins are subjected to multiple threats, which cumulatively pose a 
risk to individual populations (See Table 2). Many of these threats are 
intermingled, and the magnitude of the combined threats to the species 
is greater than the individual threats. For example, the small sizes 
and isolation of the majority of Oregon spotted frog breeding locations 
makes Oregon spotted frogs acutely vulnerable to fluctuating water 
levels, disease, predation, poor water quality, and extirpation from 
stochastic events. Hydrologic changes, resulting from activities such 
as water diversions and removal of beavers, increases the likelihood of 
fluctuating water levels and temperatures and may also facilitate 
predators. Existing regulatory mechanisms facilitate hydrologic 
changes, and restoration actions are specifically designed to benefit 
salmonid species, which often results in the reduction of habitat 
quality and quantity for Oregon spotted frogs where they overlap.
    Habitat management and a warming climate may improve conditions for 
pathogens and predators. Saprolegnia, Bd, and Ribeiroia ondatrae have 
been found in Oregon spotted frogs, and compounded with other 
stressors, such as UV-B exposure, degradation of habitat quality, or 
increased predation pressure, may contribute to population declines. Bd 
and R. ondatrae, in particular, infect post-metamorphic frogs and 
reductions in these life stages are more likely to lead to population 
declines. Sub-basins projected to transition from snow-dominant or 
transient to rain-dominant will be less susceptible to freezing 
temperatures with the expectation of reduced mortality of bullfrogs 
during winter and increased predation risk to Oregon spotted frogs.
    Amphibian declines may frequently be associated with multiple 
correlated factors (Adams 1999, pp. 1167-1169). Two of the greatest 
threats to freshwater systems in western North America, exotic species 
and hydrological changes, are often correlated. In addition, occurrence 
and abundance of bullfrogs may be linked with invasions by nonnative 
fish (Adams et al. 2003, p. 349). Adams (1999) examined the 
relationships among introduced species, habitat, and the distribution 
and abundance of red-legged frogs in western Washington. Red-legged 
frog occurrence in the Puget lowlands was more closely associated with 
habitat structure and exotic fish than with the presence of bullfrogs 
(Adams 1999, pp. 1167-1168), and similar associations were found in a 
recent study in Oregon's Willamette Valley (Pearl et al. 2005b, p. 16). 
The spread of exotic species is correlated with a shift toward greater 
permanence in wetland habitats regionally (for example, Kentula et al. 
1992, p. 115). For example, exotic fish and bullfrogs are associated 
with permanent wetlands. Conservation of more ephemeral wetland 
habitats, which directly benefit native amphibians such as Oregon 
spotted frogs, would be expected to reduce predation and competition 
threats posed by exotic fish and bullfrogs (Adams 1999, pp. 1169-1170).
    Amphibians are affected by complex interactions of abiotic and 
biotic factors and are subjected simultaneously to numerous interacting 
stressors. For example, contaminants and UV-B radiation may result in 
mortality or induce sublethal effects on their own, but they may have 
synergistic, interaction effects that exceed the additive effects when 
combined. Some stressors, such as contaminants, may hamper the immune 
system, making amphibians more susceptible to pathogenic infections 
(Kiesecker 2002 p. 9902). Predator presence can alter the behavior of 
amphibians, resulting in more or less exposure to UV-B radiation 
(Michel and Burke 2011), thereby altering the rate of malformations. 
Climate-driven dry events that result in lower water levels may 
concentrate contaminants, as well as increase the amount of exposure to 
UV-B radiation. While any one of these individual stressors may not be 
a concern, a contaminant added to increased UV-B exposure and a 
normally healthy population level of Ribeiroia ondatrae may lead to a 
higher mortality rate or an increased number of malformed frogs that 
exceeds the rate caused by any one factor alone (Blaustein et al. 2003 
entire; Szurocksi and Richardson 2009 p. 382). Oregon spotted frogs in 
every occupied sub-basin are subject to more than one stressor and, 
therefore, may be more susceptible to mortality and sublethal effects.
    The historical loss of Oregon spotted frog habitats and lasting 
anthropogenic changes in natural disturbance processes are exacerbated 
by the introduction of reed canarygrass, nonnative predators, and 
potentially climate change. In addition, current regulatory mechanisms 
and voluntary incentive programs designed to benefit fish species have 
inadvertently led to the continuing decline in quality of Oregon 
spotted frog habitats in some locations. The current wetland and stream 
vegetation management paradigm is generally a no-management or 
restoration approach that often results in succession to a tree- and 
shrub-dominated community that unintentionally degrades or eliminates 
remaining or potential suitable habitat for Oregon spotted frog 
breeding. Furthermore, incremental wetland loss or degradation 
continues under the current regulatory mechanisms. If left unmanaged, 
these factors are anticipated to result in the eventual elimination of 
remaining suitable Oregon spotted frog habitats or populations. The 
persistence of habitats required by the species is now largely 
management dependent.
    Conservation efforts to ameliorate impacts from habitat degradation 
and predators are currently under way; however, the benefits of these 
conservation actions to Oregon spotted frogs are site-specific and do 
not counteract the impacts at a sub-basin scale. The cumulative effects 
of these threats are more than additive, and removing one threat does 
not ameliorate the others and may actually result in an increase in 
another threat. For example, removing livestock grazing to improve 
water quality--without continuing to manage the vegetation--allows 
invasive reed canarygrass, trees, and shrubs to

[[Page 53618]]

grow and effectively eliminate egg-laying habitat.
    Therefore, based on the best information available, we conclude 
that the cumulative effects from factors discussed in Factors A, C, D, 
and E are a threat to the Oregon spotted frog, and these threats are 
significantly affecting populations throughout the entire range of the 
species. Moreover, these threats are expected to continue into the 
future.

                               Table 2--Threats Operating Within Each Sub-Basin *
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Sub-basin                        Factor A                 Factor C                 Factor E
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lower Fraser River...................  Wetland loss;            Introduced warmwater     Small population size;
                                        hydrologic changes;      fish; bullfrogs.         breeding locations
                                        development; grazing,                             disconnected;
                                        reed canarygrass;                                 contaminants;
                                        water quality.                                    cumulative effects of
                                                                                          other threats; climate
                                                                                          change.
Lower Chilliwack River...............  Grazing; reed            Introduced warmwater     Small population size;
                                        canarygrass; water       fish.                    breeding locations
                                        quality.                                          disconnected;
                                                                                          contaminants;
                                                                                          cumulative effects of
                                                                                          other threats; climate
                                                                                          change.
South Fork Nooksack..................  Grazing; reed            Introduced coldwater     Small population size;
                                        canarygrass; shrub       fish.                    cumulative effects of
                                        encroachment/planting;                            other threats;
                                        loss of beavers; water                            contaminants; climate
                                        quality.                                          change.
Samish River.........................  Wetland loss; grazing;   Introduced warmwater     Breeding locations
                                        reed canarygrass;        fish; introduced         disconnected;
                                        shrub encroachment/      coldwater fish.          contaminants;
                                        planting; water                                   cumulative effects of
                                        quality.                                          other threats; climate
                                                                                          change.
Black River..........................  Wetland loss; reed       Introduced warmwater     Small population size;
                                        canarygrass; shrub       fish; introduced         breeding locations
                                        encroachment/planting;   coldwater fish;          disconnected;
                                        development; loss of     bullfrogs.               contaminants;
                                        beaver; water quality.                            cumulative effects of
                                                                                          other threats; climate
                                                                                          change.
White Salmon River...................  Wetland loss; reed       Introduced coldwater     Cumulative effects of
                                        canarygrass; water       fish.                    other threats; climate
                                        quality.                                          change.
Middle Klickitat River...............  Wetland loss;            Introduced warmwater     Cumulative effects of
                                        hydrologic changes;      fish; introduced         other threats; climate
                                        loss of beaver;          coldwater fish,          change.
                                        development; grazing;    bullfrogs.
                                        reed canarygrass;
                                        shrub encroachment;
                                        water management.
Lower Deschutes......................  Shrub encroachment.....  Introduced coldwater     Small population size;
                                                                 fish.                    single occupied site
                                                                                          within sub-basin;
                                                                                          isolated from frogs in
                                                                                          other sub-basins;
                                                                                          cumulative effects of
                                                                                          other threats; climate
                                                                                          change.
Upper Deschutes......................  Wetland loss; reed       Introduced warmwater     Breeding locations
                                        canarygrass; shrub       fish; introduced         disconnected;
                                        encroachment;            coldwater fish,          cumulative effects of
                                        hydrological changes     bullfrogs.               other threats; climate
                                        (water management).                               change.
Little Deschutes.....................  Wetland loss;            Introduced coldwater     Breeding locations
                                        hydrological changes     fish, bullfrogs.         disconnected;
                                        (water management);                               cumulative effects of
                                        development; grazing;                             other threats; climate
                                        reed canarygrass;                                 change.
                                        shrub encroachment.
McKenzie.............................  Shrub encroachment.....  Introduced coldwater     Only two breeding
                                                                 fish.                    locations in sub-
                                                                                          basin, which are
                                                                                          disconnected;
                                                                                          cumulative effects of
                                                                                          other threats; climate
                                                                                          change.
Middle Fork Willamette...............  Shrub encroachment.....  Introduced coldwater     Single occupied site in
                                                                 fish.                    sub-basin;
                                                                                          disconnected from
                                                                                          other sub-basins;
                                                                                          cumulative effects of
                                                                                          other threats; climate
                                                                                          change.
Williamson...........................  Development; grazing;    Introduced warmwater     Small population size;
                                        shrub encroachment;      fish; introduced         breeding locations
                                        loss of beaver.          coldwater fish.          disconnected;
                                                                                          cumulative effects of
                                                                                          other threats; climate
                                                                                          change.
Upper Klamath Lake...................  Water management;        Introduced warmwater     Small population size;
                                        development; shrub and   fish; introduced         breeding locations
                                        reed canarygrass         coldwater fish;          disconnected;
                                        encroachment; grazing.   bullfrogs.               cumulative effects of
                                                                                          other threats; climate
                                                                                          change.
Upper Klamath........................  Wetland loss; water      Introduced warmwater     Small population size;
                                        management;              fish; introduced         breeding locations
                                        development; grazing;    coldwater fish.          disconnected;
                                        shrub encroachment;                               cumulative effects of
                                        loss of beaver.                                   other threats; climate
                                                                                          change.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Existing regulatory mechanisms (Factor D) have been insufficient to significantly reduce or remove the threats
  to the Oregon spotted frog.
* Factors A, C, and E are operative within some to several occupied sites within each sub-basin, to differing
  degrees. To clarify, these threats apply to locations within each sub-basin, and do not necessarily apply to
  the sub-basin in its entirety. Detailed information is available in a rangewide threats synthesis document,
  which is available from Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES).


[[Page 53619]]

Determination

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to Oregon spotted frog. Past human actions have destroyed, modified, 
and curtailed the range and habitat available for the Oregon spotted 
frog, which is now absent from 76 to 90 percent of its former range. 
The Oregon spotted frog populations within two of the sub-basins are 
declining, but the population trend in the other 13 sub-basins is 
undetermined. However, the Oregon spotted frog is extant in only 15 of 
31 sub-basins where it historically occurred. In addition, the majority 
of remaining populations are isolated both between and within sub-
basins, with minimal opportunity for natural recolonization. These 
isolated populations are, therefore, vulnerable to ongoing threats and 
extirpation, and threats are known to be ongoing or increasing across 
the range of the Oregon spotted frog, as summarized below.
    Habitat necessary to support all life stages is continuing to be 
impacted and/or destroyed by human activities that result in the loss 
of wetlands to land conversions; hydrologic changes resulting from 
operation of existing water diversions/manipulation structures, new and 
existing residential and road developments, drought, and removal of 
beavers; changes in water temperature and vegetation structure 
resulting from reed canarygrass invasions, plant succession, and 
restoration plantings; and increased sedimentation, increased water 
temperatures, reduced water quality, and vegetation changes resulting 
from the timing, intensity, and location of livestock grazing. Oregon 
spotted frogs in all currently occupied sub-basins in British Columbia, 
Washington, and Oregon are subject to one or more of these threats to 
their habitat. Eleven of the 15 sub-basins are currently experiencing a 
high to very high level of habitat impacts, and these impacts are 
expected to continue into the future.
    Disease continues to be a concern, but more information is needed 
to determine if disease is a threat to Oregon spotted frogs. At least 
one nonnative predaceous species occurs within each of the sub-basins 
currently occupied by Oregon spotted frogs. Introduced fish have been 
documented within each sub-basin; these introduced species prey on 
tadpoles, negatively affect overwintering habitat, and can 
significantly threaten Oregon spotted frog populations, especially 
during droughts. Bullfrogs (and likely green frogs) prey on juvenile 
and adult Oregon spotted frogs, and bullfrog tadpoles can outcompete or 
displace Oregon spotted frog tadpoles. In short, nonnative bullfrogs 
effectively reduce the abundance of all Oregon spotted frog life stages 
and pose an added threat to a species that has significant negative 
impacts rangewide from habitat degradation. Nine of the 15 occupied 
sub-basins are currently experiencing moderate to very high impacts due 
to predation by introduced species, and these impacts are expected to 
continue into the future.
    Lack of essential habitat protection under Federal, State, 
Provincial, and local laws leaves this species at continued risk of 
habitat loss and degradation in British Columbia, Washington, and 
Oregon. In many cases, laws and regulations that pertain to retention 
and restoration of wetland and riverine areas are a no-management 
(i.e., avoidance) approach, or are designed to be beneficial to fish 
species (principally salmonids), resulting in the elimination or 
degradation of Oregon spotted frog early-seral habitat. In other cases, 
no regulations address threats related to the draining or development 
of wetlands or hydrologic modifications, which can also eliminate or 
degrade Oregon spotted frog habitat. Therefore, degradation of habitat 
is ongoing despite regulatory mechanisms, and these mechanisms have 
been insufficient to significantly reduce or remove the threats to the 
Oregon spotted frog.
    Many of the Oregon spotted frog breeding locations are small and 
isolated from other breeding locations. Due to their fidelity to 
breeding locations and vulnerability to fluctuating water levels, 
predation, and low overwinter survival, Oregon spotted frogs can 
experience rapid population turnovers that they may not be able to 
overcome. Low connectivity among occupied sub-basins and among breeding 
locations within a sub-basin, in addition to small population sizes, 
contributes to low genetic diversity within genetic groups and high 
genetic differentiation among genetic groups. Oregon spotted frogs in 
every occupied sub-basin are subject to more than one stressor, such as 
loss or reduced quality of habitat and predation. Therefore, the 
species may be more susceptible to the synergistic effects of combined 
threats, which may be exacerbated by climate change. The threat to 
Oregon spotted frogs from other natural or manmade factors is occurring 
throughout the entire range of the species, and the population-level 
impacts are expected to continue into the future.
    All of the known Oregon spotted frog occupied sub-basins are 
currently affected by one or more of these threats, which reduce the 
amount and quality of available breeding, summer, and overwintering 
habitat. While the risk to an individual site from each of these 
factors may vary, the cumulative risk of these threats to each site is 
high. This scenario is reflected in declining and/or small populations, 
which constitute the majority the Oregon spotted frog's remaining 
distribution. We find that Oregon spotted frogs are likely to become 
endangered throughout all or a significant portion of their range 
within the foreseeable future, based on the immediacy, severity, and 
scope of the threats described above. We do not, however, have 
information at the present time to suggest that the existing threats 
are of such a great magnitude that Oregon spotted frogs are in 
immediate danger of extinction. Threats are not geographically 
concentrated in any portions of the species' range, and the species is 
extant and redundant at a number of localities within 13 of 15 sub-
basins within British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. One extant 
population remains in each of the Lower Deschutes River and Middle Fork 
Willamette sub-basins in Oregon. Egg mass surveys continue to document 
reproducing adults in most areas, although in at least two locations 
within the current range, Oregon spotted frogs may no longer be extant 
(i.e., the Maintenance Detachment Aldergrove site in British Columbia 
and the 110th Avenue site at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in 
Washington).
    Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific and 
commercial information, we propose listing the Oregon spotted frog as a 
threatened species in accordance with sections 3(20) and 4(a)(1) of the 
Act.

Significant Portion of the Range

    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. The Act defines ``endangered 
species'' as any species which is ``in danger of extinction throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range,'' and ``threatened species'' 
as any species which is ``likely to become an endangered species within 
the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range.'' The definition of ``species'' is also relevant to this 
discussion. The Act defines ``species'' as follows: ``The term 
`species' includes any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and 
any distinct population segment [DPS] of any

[[Page 53620]]

species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.'' 
The phrase ``significant portion of its range'' (SPR) is not defined by 
the statute, and we have never addressed in our regulations: (1) The 
consequences of a determination that a species is either endangered or 
likely to become so throughout a significant portion of its range, but 
not throughout all of its range; or (2) what qualifies a portion of a 
range as ``significant.''
    In practice, a key part of the determination that a species is in 
danger of extinction in a significant portion of its range is whether 
the threats are geographically concentrated in some way. If the threats 
to the species are essentially uniform throughout its range, no portion 
is likely to warrant further consideration. Moreover, if any 
concentration of threats to the species occurs only in portions of the 
species' range that clearly would not meet the biologically based 
definition of ``significant,'' such portions will not warrant further 
consideration.
    The best available data suggests that, under current conditions, 
Oregon spotted frogs will likely continue to decline toward extinction. 
Having already determined that the Oregon spotted frog is a threatened 
species throughout its range, we considered whether threats may be so 
concentrated in some portion of its range that, if that portion were 
lost, the entire species would be in danger of extinction. We reviewed 
the entire supporting record for the status review of this species with 
respect to the geographic concentrations of threats, and the 
significance of portions of the range to the conservation of the 
species. Oregon spotted frogs currently occupy 15 sub-basins that are 
widely distributed, such that a catastrophic event in one or more of 
the sub-basins would not extirpate Oregon spotted frogs throughout 
their range. Based on our five-factor analysis of threats throughout 
the range of the Oregon spotted frog, we found threats to the survival 
of the species occur throughout the species' range and are not 
significantly concentrated or substantially greater in any particular 
portion of their range. Therefore, we find that there is no significant 
portion of the Oregon spotted frog's range that may warrant a different 
status. Therefore, the species as a whole is not presently in danger of 
extinction, and does not meet the definition of an endangered species 
under the Act.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness and 
conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies, private 
organizations, and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the 
States and requires that recovery actions be carried out for all listed 
species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the 
prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.
    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered 
and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The 
ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these 
listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of 
the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act requires the Service to develop and 
implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and 
threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the 
identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the 
species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and 
recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a 
point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning 
components of their ecosystems.
    Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline 
shortly after a species is listed and preparation of a draft and final 
recovery plan. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation 
of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to 
develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address 
continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive 
information becomes available. The recovery plan identifies site-
specific management actions that set a trigger for review of the five 
factors that control whether a species remains endangered or may be 
downlisted or delisted, and methods for monitoring recovery progress. 
Recovery plans also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate 
their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of 
implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (comprising species 
experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and 
stakeholders) are often established to develop recovery plans. When 
completed, the recovery outline, draft recovery plan, and the final 
recovery plan will be available on our Web site (http://www.fws.gov/endangered), or from our Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the 
participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal 
agencies, States, Tribal, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, 
and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat 
restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive 
propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The 
recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on 
Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-
Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires 
cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and Tribal lands.
    If this species is listed, funding for recovery actions will be 
available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State 
programs, and cost-share grants for non-Federal landowners, the 
academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, 
pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the States of Washington, Oregon, and 
California would be eligible for Federal funds to implement management 
actions that promote the protection or recovery of the Oregon spotted 
frog. Information on our grant programs that are available to aid 
species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.
    Although the Oregon spotted frog is only proposed for listing under 
the Act at this time, please let us know if you are interested in 
participating in recovery efforts for this species. Additionally, we 
invite you to submit any new information on this species whenever it 
becomes available and any information you may have for recovery 
planning purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their 
actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as an 
endangered or threatened species and with respect to its critical 
habitat, if any is designated. Regulations implementing this 
interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR 
part 402. Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to 
confer with the Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of a species proposed for listing or result in 
destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. If a 
species is listed subsequently, section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires 
Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or 
carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the 
species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a 
Federal

[[Page 53621]]

action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the 
responsible Federal agency must enter into formal consultation with the 
Service.
    Federal agency actions within the species' habitat that may require 
conference or consultation or both as described in the preceding 
paragraph include actions to manage or restore habitat; actions that 
may negatively affect the species through removal, conversion, or 
degradation of habitat; actions that may introduce nonnative predaceous 
species; or actions that require collecting or handling the species. 
Examples of activities conducted, regulated or funded by Federal 
agencies that may affect listed species or their habitat include, but 
are not limited to:
    (1) Vegetation management such as planting, grazing, burning, 
mechanical treatment, and/or application of pesticides adjacent to or 
in Oregon spotted frog habitat;
    (2) Water manipulation, such as flow management, water diversions, 
or canal dredging or piping;
    (3) Recreation management actions such as development of 
campgrounds or boat launches adjacent to or in Oregon spotted frog 
habitat;
    (4) River restoration, including channel reconstruction, placement 
of large woody debris, vegetation planting, reconnecting riverine 
floodplain, or gravel placement adjacent to or in Oregon spotted frog 
habitat;
    (5) Pond construction;
    (6) Issuance of section 404 Clean Water Act permits by the Army 
Corps of Engineers; and
    (7) Import, export, or trade of the species.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered 
wildlife. The prohibitions of section 9(a)(2) of the Act, codified at 
50 CFR 17.21 for endangered wildlife, in part, make it illegal for any 
person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to take 
(includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect; or to attempt any of these), import, export, ship 
in interstate commerce in the course of commercial activity, or sell or 
offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any listed species. 
Under the Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42-43; 16 U.S.C. 3371-3378), it is also 
illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such 
wildlife that has been taken illegally. Certain exceptions apply to 
agents of the Service and State conservation agencies.
    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered and threatened wildlife species under certain 
circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 
17.22 for endangered species, and at 17.32 for threatened species. With 
regard to endangered wildlife, a permit must be issued for the 
following purposes: for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation 
or survival of the species, and for incidental take in connection with 
otherwise lawful activities.
    Our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34272), is to identify to the maximum extent practicable at the 
time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not 
constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this 
policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a proposed 
listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of species 
proposed for listing. The following activities could potentially result 
in a violation of section 9 of the Act; this list is not comprehensive:
    (1) Unauthorized collecting, handling, possessing, selling, 
delivering, carrying, or transporting of the species, including import 
or export across State lines and international boundaries, except for 
properly documented antique specimens of these taxa at least 100 years 
old, as defined by section 10(h)(1) of the Act;
    (2) Introduction of nonnative species that compete with or prey 
upon the Oregon spotted frog, such as bullfrogs, green frogs, or warm 
or cold water fishes to the States of Washington, Oregon, or 
California;
    (3) Unauthorized modification of the wetted area or removal or 
destruction of emergent aquatic vegetation in any body of water in 
which the Oregon spotted frog is known to occur; and
    (4) Unauthorized discharge of chemicals into any waters in which 
the Oregon spotted frog is known to occur.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Washington 
Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). 
Requests for copies of the regulations concerning listed animals and 
general inquiries regarding prohibitions and permits may be addressed 
to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, Eastside 
Federal Complex, 911 N.E. 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232-4181 
(telephone 503-231-6158; facsimile 503-231-6243).
    If the Oregon spotted frog is listed under the Act, the State of 
Oregon's Endangered Species Act (O.R.S. sec. 496.171-996; 498.026) is 
automatically invoked, which would also prohibit take of this species 
and encourage conservation by State government agencies. Further, the 
State may enter into agreements with Federal agencies to administer and 
manage any area required for the conservation, management, enhancement, 
or protection of endangered species. Funds for these activities could 
be made available under section 6 of the Act (Cooperation with the 
States). Thus, the Federal protection afforded to these species by 
listing them as endangered species will be reinforced and supplemented 
by protection under State law.
    The Oregon spotted frog is currently listed under the State of 
Washington's ESA as endangered. The State of California's ESA is not 
automatically invoked if the Oregon spotted frog is listed under the 
Act. We are unaware of any legal protections afforded to the species in 
British Columbia upon listing.

Consideration of a 4(d) Special Rule

    The Service may develop specific prohibitions and exceptions that 
are tailored to the specific conservation needs of the species. In such 
cases, some of the prohibitions and authorizations under 50 CFR 17.31 
and 17.32 may be appropriate for the species and incorporated into a 
special rule under section 4(d) of the Act, but the 4(d) special rule 
will also include provisions that are tailored to the specific 
conservation needs of the threatened species and may be more or less 
restrictive than the general provisions at 50 CFR 17.31. We are 
considering whether it is appropriate to develop a 4(d) rule that would 
not prohibit take that is incidental to implementing a State 
comprehensive Oregon spotted frog conservation program, implementing 
regional or local Oregon spotted frog conservation programs, and 
activities or efforts conducted by individual landowners that are 
outside of a more structured program but are still consistent with 
maintaining or advancing the conservation of Oregon spotted frog.

State, Regional, and Local Conservation Programs

    We anticipate that conservation programs covered under such a 4(d) 
rule would need to be developed and administered by an entity having 
jurisdiction or authority over the activities in the program; would 
need to be approved by the Service as adequately protective to provide 
a conservation benefit to the Oregon spotted frog; and may need to 
include adaptive management, monitoring, and

[[Page 53622]]

reporting components sufficient to demonstrate that the conservation 
objectives of the plan are being met. For example, a comprehensive 
conservation program that has a clear mechanism for enrollment of 
participating landowners that want to manage their lands for the 
benefit of the Oregon spotted frog may not be prohibited from taking 
Oregon spotted frogs. In making its determination, the Service would 
consider:
    (i) How the program addresses the threats affecting the Oregon 
spotted frog within the program area;
    (ii) How the program establishes objective, measurable biological 
goals and objectives for population and habitat necessary to ensure a 
conservation benefit, and provides the mechanisms by which those goals 
and objectives would be achieved;
    (iii) How the program administrators demonstrate the capability and 
funding mechanisms for effectively implementing all elements of the 
conservation program, including enrollment of participating landowners, 
monitoring of program activities, and enforcement of program 
requirements;
    (iv) How the program employs an adaptive management strategy to 
ensure future program adaptation as necessary and appropriate; and
    (v) How the program includes appropriate monitoring of 
effectiveness and compliance.
    The considerations presented here are meant to encourage the 
development of efforts to improve habitat conditions and the status of 
the Oregon spotted frog across its range. For the Service to approve 
coverage of a comprehensive or local/regional conservation program 
under the 4(d) special rule being considered, the program must provide 
a conservation benefit to Oregon spotted frog. Conservation, as defined 
in section 3(3) of the Act, means ``to use and the use of all methods 
and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered species or 
threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant 
to the Act are no longer necessary.'' The program may also be 
periodically reviewed by the Service to determine that it continues to 
provide the intended conservation benefit to Oregon spotted frog. As a 
result of this provision, the Service expects that conservation actions 
will be implemented with a high level of certainty that the program 
will lead to the long-term conservation of Oregon spotted frog.

Activities Conducted by Individual Private Landowners

    The Service is considering whether it is appropriate to develop a 
4(d) rule on non-Federal lands when those lands are managed following 
technical guidelines that have been developed in coordination with a 
State or Federal agency or agencies responsible for the management and 
conservation of fish and wildlife, or their agent(s), and that has been 
determined by the Service to provide a conservation benefit to the 
Oregon spotted frog. For example, a conservation district develops 
specific technical guidelines for controlling reed canarygrass that the 
Service agrees maintains breeding habitat, hence there is a 
conservation benefit to the species. Individual non-Federal landowners 
following these specific technical guidelines may be exempted from 
take. Guidelines should incorporate procedures, practice standards, and 
conservation measures that promote the continued existence of the 
Oregon spotted frog.
    Ideally, appropriate guidelines would be associated with a program 
that would provide financial and technical assistance to participating 
landowners to implement specific conservation measures beneficial to 
Oregon spotted frog that also contribute to the sustainability of 
landowners' activities. Conservation measures encompassed by such a 
program should be consistent with management or restoration of emergent 
wetland habitats that include vegetation management and appropriate 
water management for maintaining habitat for Oregon spotted frog.
    We believe including such a provision in a 4(d) special rule for 
individual landowner activities will promote conservation of the 
species by encouraging landowners with Oregon spotted frog to continue 
managing the remaining landscape in ways that meet the needs of their 
operations or activities while simultaneously supporting suitable 
habitat for the frog and other wetland-dependent species.
    We will consider all comments and information received during our 
preparation of a final determination on the status of the species and a 
4(d) special rule. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from our 
original proposal.

Educational and Scientific Activities

    Finally, we are considering whether it is appropriate to include a 
provision for take of Oregon spotted frog when that take is in 
accordance with applicable State law for educational or scientific 
purposes, the enhancement of propagation or survival of the species, 
zoological exhibition, and other conservation purposes consistent with 
the Act. An example of an activity that could be covered under such a 
provision includes presence/absence and population monitoring surveys. 
Such surveys are typically conducted during the breeding season and may 
cause disturbance in the breeding habitat, particularly when egg mass 
counts are used to estimate the number of frogs. These surveys entail 
walking transects through the shallow-water breeding habitat, which may 
cause some disturbance of breeding frogs and a low likelihood of 
trampling of egg masses or frogs. However, if surveys are conducted in 
accordance with scientifically accepted methodologies, minimal impact 
to Oregon spotted frogs, primarily in the form of harassment, should 
occur.
    Accordingly, we are soliciting public comment as to which 
prohibitions, and exceptions to those prohibitions, are necessary and 
advisable to provide for the conservation of the Oregon spotted frog 
(see Public Comments above). After reviewing the initial public 
comments on this topic, we will evaluate whether a 4(d) special rule is 
appropriate for the Oregon spotted frog and, if so, publish a proposed 
4(d) special rule for public comment. Currently, we have not proposed a 
4(d) special rule for Oregon spotted frog. If the Oregon spotted frog 
is ultimately listed as a threatened species without a 4(d) special 
rule, the general prohibitions (50 CFR 17.31) and exceptions to these 
prohibitions (50 CFR 17.32) for threatened species would be applied to 
the Oregon spotted frog, as explained above.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the 
Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we will seek the expert 
opinions of at least three appropriate and independent specialists 
regarding this proposed rule. The purpose of peer review is to ensure 
that our listing determination and critical habitat designation are 
based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We have 
invited these peer reviewers to comment during this public comment 
period.
    We will consider all comments and information received during this 
comment period on this proposed rule during our preparation of a final 
determination. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from this 
proposal.

Public Hearings

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one public hearing on this 
proposal, if

[[Page 53623]]

requested. Requests must be received within 45 days after the date of 
publication of this proposed rule in the Federal Register. Such 
requests must be sent to the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT. We will schedule public hearings on this proposal, if any are 
requested, and announce the dates, times, and places of those hearings, 
as well as how to obtain reasonable accommodations, in the Federal 
Register and local newspapers at least 15 days before the hearing.

Required Determinations

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information that 
require approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 
U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This rule will not impose recordkeeping or 
reporting requirements on State or local governments, individuals, 
businesses, or organizations. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and 
a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information 
unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental 
impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be 
prepared in connection with listing a species as an endangered or 
threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. We published a 
notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal 
Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

Clarity of the Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (1) Be logically organized;
    (2) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (3) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (4) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (5) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. To better help us 
revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For 
example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections or paragraphs 
that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences are too long, 
the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available 
on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the 
Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this package are the staff members of the 
Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office--
Bend Field Office, and Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter 
I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:

PART 17--[AMENDED]

0
1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; and 4201-4245; unless 
otherwise noted.


0
2. In Sec.  17.11(h) add an entry for ``Frog, Oregon spotted'' to the 
List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in alphabetical order under 
``Amphibians'' to read as set forth below:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                       Species
------------------------------------------------------   Historic range     Vertebrate population where     Status       When      Critical     Special
           Common name              Scientific name                           endangered or threatened                  listed      habitat      rules
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
AMPHIBIANS
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Frog, Oregon spotted............  Rana pretiosa......  Canada (BC);        Entire.......................           T  ..........          NA          NA
                                                        U.S.A. (WA, OR,
                                                        CA).
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *

    Dated: July 18, 2013.
Stephen Guertin,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-20986 Filed 8-28-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P