WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated 47,383 acres in Sonoma County as critical habitat for the endangered California tiger salamander.
The total acres are fewer than the 55,000 the agency proposed earlier this year because the developed areas of Sonoma County were dropped out of the final acreage.
The designation overturns a 2005 determination by the agency designating just 17,418 acres as critical habitat for the salamander. The Center for Biological Diversity said that proposal was not based on sound science, and threatened to sue the agency. In 2009, the agency settled with the Center and agreed to revise the proposed designation.
“Protection of habitat for the California tiger salamander will benefit thousands of species on the rich Santa Rosa Plain and ensure that this beautiful area isn’t entirely paved over with strip malls,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director.
According to the agency, the salamander is threatened by urban sprawl, roads, and pesticides used in the once mostly rural parts of Sonoma County.