A tree-thinning project at Lake Tahoe is currently on hold due to concerns about an endangered frog species in the area, according to reports.
The US Forest Service has been removing and burning trees and bushes in an effort to decrease the amount of wildfires that occur at Lake Tahoe in Nevada. While this project has good intentions, it's creating some competition for land. Acreage near Upper Echo Lake is also being considered for designation as critical habitat for the Sierra-Nevada yellow-legged frog.
Dennis Murphy, a renowned conservation biologist at the University of Nevada, Reno filed a lawsuit last year over the matter, The Associated Press reported. He says the logging threatens the survival of the frog, which was listed as an endangered species in April.
The Tahoe Daily Tribune reports that if the agency continues to burn and remove trees and brush at the lake, the work could further "result in harmful effects on ecological and historical resources," according to the lawsuit.
"At a minimum, the Forest Service should have conducted surveys of the project area to determine whether its activities would harm the species and its habitat," Murphy said, "but instead the agency put on blinders to the impacts of the project hoping no one would notice."
In a stipulation signed by Senior US District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. on Wednesday, the Forest Service agreed to consult with the US Fish and Wildlife Service concerning potential impacts to the species. The agency said they will resume thinning trees until they finish its discussion with wildlife officials.
"Certainly it is welcome news that they were able to stop the project and address the issues with the project impacts with the Fish and Wildlife Service," added Murphy's attorney, Paul Weiland.
According to the National Park Service, the Sierra-Nevada yellow-legged frog is a federally endangered species, whose population has declined 95 percent. They are threatened by non-native fish, disease and airborne contaminants.
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