[Federal Register: August 30, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 169)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 55758-55767]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding 
for a Petition To List the Wasatch Front Columbia Spotted Frog as 
Threatened Throughout Its Range

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of petition finding.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces a 12-
month finding on a petition to amend the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife. After review of all available scientific and 
commercial information, the Service has determined that, pursuant to 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) 
(Act), listing the Wasatch Front population of the Columbia spotted 
frog (Rana luteiventris) is not warranted.

DATES: The finding announced in this notice was approved on August 23, 
2002. Comments and information may be submitted until further notice.

ADDRESSES: Questions, comments, and additional information regarding 
this finding should be sent to Mr. Henry Maddux, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 2369 West Orton Circle, West Valley City, UT 
84119. Comments and materials received will be available on request for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jessica Gourley, e-mail <jess--
gourley@fws.gov, or Laura Romin, email <laura--
romin@fws.gov, (see ADDRESSES section), telephone (801) 975-



    On May 1, 1989, the Service received a petition from the Board of 
Directors of the Utah Nature Study Society requesting the Service to 
add the spotted frog (then referred to as Rana pretiosa) to the List of 
Threatened and Endangered Species and to specifically consider the 
status of the Wasatch Front, Utah, population. The petitioners stated 
that ``the spotted frog's present range in the lower 48 states is 
greatly reduced from its historic range,'' and that ``the current 
status [of the species] is greatly reduced from historic times.'' The 
petitioners further indicated that the ``scientific importance of the 
spotted frog is that this species lives in many disjunct populations 
that reflect Pleistocene populations.'' Threats identified by the 
petitioners included loss of habitat (caused by dam and reservoir 
construction, alteration of drainage patterns, urban and agricultural 
use of water, and highway and bridge construction); introductions of 
exotic species; lack of inventories of native wetland animals; 
insufficient impact analyses conducted prior to development; and 
inadequate mitigation activities. In addition, the petitioners alluded 
that Federal and State laws and regulations do not adequately protect 
wetlands and riparian areas for the spotted frog.
    The Service published a notice of a 90-day finding in the Federal 
Register (54 FR 42529) on October 17, 1989, concluding there was 
substantial information that the petitioned action may be warranted. 
Concurrent with publishing the notice, the Service initiated a status 
review. The period of the status review was prolonged because, 
throughout its wide range, there was a lack of quantitative information 
documenting the spotted frog's current distribution and status. 
Genetics research raised further questions regarding the 
appropriateness of the then-current taxonomic classification of spotted 
frog populations.
    A notice of the 12-month petition finding was published in the 
Federal Register (58 FR 27260) on May 7, 1993. In the 12-month petition 
finding, the Service determined that listing the spotted frog as 
threatened in some portions of its range was warranted but precluded by 
other higher priority listing actions. Based on geographic and climatic 
separation and supported by genetic separation (Green 1991), the 
Service found five Distinct Population Segments (DPS) of spotted frogs 
throughout its range--(1) the main population (Alaska, British 
Columbia, Alberta, Wyoming, Montana, north and central Idaho, eastern 
Washington, and northeastern Oregon), (2) the Great Basin (southern 
Idaho and Nevada), (3) West Coast (western Washington, Oregon, Idaho, 
and Nevada), (4) the Wasatch Front, Utah, and (5) the West Desert, 
Utah. Separation of the West Desert and Wasatch Front DPSs in Utah is 
supported by geographic isolation in addition to ecological and 
demographic distinctiveness (Bos and Sites 2001).
    Four of the five DPSs (all but the main population) were found to 
be warranted but precluded by higher listing priorities; both Utah 
populations were designated as candidates for listing. In Utah, the 
Wasatch Front population was assigned a listing priority number of 
three because the magnitude of the threats were high and imminent, 
while the West Desert population was assigned a listing priority of 
nine because of moderate to low threats.
    On November 15, 1994, the Service published a Candidate Notice of 
Review in the Federal Register for the four candidate DPSs (59 FR 
58982). The listing priority for the West Desert DPS was increased from 
nine to six. In the Service's September 19, 1997, Candidate Notice of 
Review, the scientific and common name of the Wasatch Front, West 
Desert, and Great Basin DPSs were changed to Rana luteiventris and 
Columbia spotted frog respectively, based on new genetics information 
(Green et al. 1997).
    On November 28, 1997, the Service announced the availability of a 
Draft Conservation Agreement for the Wasatch Front and West Desert 
populations (Utah) of the Columbia spotted frog (Rana luteiventris) (62 
FR 63375). The Service received a request to extend the comment period, 
and on December 24, 1997, announced that the comment period on the 
Draft Conservation Agreement had been extended until January 16, 1998 
(62 FR 67398). The Service subsequently signed the Conservation 
Agreement on February 13, 1998, in cooperation with the Utah Division 
of Wildlife Resources (UDWR), Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of 
Reclamation, Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission, 
Central Utah Water Conservancy District, and the Confederated Tribes of 
the Goshute Federation.
    The goal of this interagency Conservation Agreement is to ensure 
the long-term conservation of the Columbia spotted frog within its 
historical range in Utah. The Conservation Agreement established a 
mechanism for the recovery of the spotted frog through interagency 
cooperation, coordination of conservation efforts, and development of 
recovery priorities. Due to numerous activities and studies in addition 
to and pursuant with the Conservation Agreement, we determined that the

[[Page 55759]]

status of the Columbia spotted frog in Utah had improved and no longer 
warranted listing under the Act on April 2, 1998 (63 FR 16218). With 
this finding, both DPSs of Columbia spotted frogs in Utah were removed 
as candidates for listing on October 25, 1999 (64 FR 57533).
    On June 8, 1999, a complaint was filed by the Biodiversity Legal 
Foundation and Peter Hovingh challenging the not warranted finding as 
violating the Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. The complaint 
alleged that the not warranted finding was inconsistent with the 8 
years of prior determinations by the Service; that the Wasatch Front 
population of the Columbia spotted frog deserved listing under the Act; 
that the Wasatch Front population of the Columbia spotted frog had 
declined during the course of the 8-year administrative process; that 
the Conservation Agreement contained future and voluntary actions that 
had yet to be implemented and had not proven successful at protecting 
the Wasatch Front population of the Columbia spotted frog; and that all 
measures identified by the Service as having previously been 
implemented had either failed, had been rejected by the Service as 
inadequate, or were adopted to mitigate specific projects that had 
already destroyed Columbia spotted frogs and their wetland and aquatic 
    On August 6, 2001, the plaintiffs and the Government reached a 
settlement regarding this complaint. The settlement stipulated that we 
remand for reconsideration the 1998 ``not warranted'' finding and start 
a new status review and 12-month finding on the Wasatch Front 
population of the Columbia spotted frog to be completed by July 31, 
2002. The Service subsequently published a notice of intent to conduct 
the 12-month finding on September 10, 2001 (66 FR 47034). The 
settlement also stated that we would not vacate our previous 
determination in the interim. Candidate status of this species would 
not be restored unless and until we determine in the revised 12-month 
finding that the species is warranted for listing, or warranted but 
precluded from listing by higher priority listing actions.
    Following this settlement, we initiated a review to evaluate the 
status of the Columbia spotted frog on the Wasatch Front. Comments were 
received, evaluated, and incorporated where appropriate into this 
status review. Information included published and unpublished reports, 
manuscripts, books and data, memoranda, letters, phone communications, 
email correspondence, and information gathered at meetings. In 
addition, persons who were species experts on the Columbia spotted frog 
were provided opportunity to comment on the data used in this report to 
ensure it was the most accurate and updated information available and 
that it was interpreted accurately. This status review is available 
upon request from the Utah Field Office (see ADDRESSES above).
    The Columbia spotted frog belongs to the family of true frogs, the 
Ranidae. Color and pattern descriptions of individuals from Utah 
include brownish-black dorsal coloration with little to no spotting 
pattern (Colburn, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pers. comm. 1992). 
Pigmentation on their abdomens varies from yellow to red (Turner 1957). 
Columbia spotted frogs along the Wasatch Front generally possess a 
salmon color ventrally, while West Desert and Sanpete County, Utah, 
populations generally have a yellow to yellow-orange color ventrally.
    The spotted frog is closely associated with water (Dumas 1966, 
Nussbaum et al. 1983). Habitat includes the marshy edges of ponds, 
lakes, slow-moving cool water streams and springs (Licht 1974; Nussbaum 
et al. 1983; Morris and Tanner 1969; Hovingh 1987).
    The overall distribution of the Columbia spotted frog is continuous 
throughout extreme southeastern Alaska, southwestern Yukon, northern 
British Columbia, and western Alberta; and south through Washington 
(east of the Cascades), eastern Oregon, Idaho, and western Montana. Its 
southern extent includes disjunct populations in central and 
northeastern Nevada, southwestern Idaho, western and north-central 
Wyoming, and northern Utah (Stebbins 1985; Green et al. 1996, 1997, 
Tanner 1931, Linsdale 1940, Banta 1965, Turner and Dumas 1972, Hovingh 
1993, Ross et al. 1993, 1994). These disjunct populations are highly 
fragmented, occurring on isolated mountains and in arid-land springs.
    Systematic and taxonomic relationships of spotted frogs occurring 
in Utah to other spotted frog populations have been described in 
several manners. Two subspecies of Rana pretiosa were described 
originally (Thompson 1913, Wright and Wright 1949). These two 
subspecies, R. p. pretiosa and R. p. luteiventris, were described based 
on pigmentation characteristics of frogs. As additional specimens were 
examined, variability of characteristics within and between populations 
was described (Morris and Tanner 1969). Green et al. (1996) examined 
allozyme and morphometric variation in R. pretiosa and suggested that 
at least two species were represented, referred to as species A 
(southwestern Washington and Oregon Cascades) and species B (remainder 
of range). However, morphometrically the two species were ``almost 
indistinguishable'' and the authors could not fully delineate the 
dividing line between the ranges of species A and species B. Based on 
biochemical and morphological data, Green et al. (1997) concluded that 
there were two groups at the species level--Oregon spotted frog (Rana 
pretiosa) and Columbia spotted frog (Rana luteiventris). They 
determined that all spotted frog populations occurring within Utah 
should be taxonomically described as Rana luteiventris. On September 
19, 1997, the Service updated the common and scientific names of the 
Utah populations to the Columbia spotted frog, Rana luteiventris.
    Further analyses of taxonomic relationships among range-wide 
spotted frog populations were performed by Bos and Sites (2001). This 
study revealed four genetically distinct lineages. Two of these 
lineages are represented in Utah--(1) the Deep Creek lineage (Deep 
Creek-Ibapah population in the West Desert DPS), and (2) the Bonneville 
lineage (all other populations in Utah, including the Wasatch Front and 
the remainder of the West Desert DPSs). The Wasatch Front DPS appears 
to have originated from the West Desert populations in relatively 
recent evolutionary time, during the recession of Lake Bonneville (Bos 
and Sites 2001, Toline and Seitz 1999). Therefore, genetic differences 
between these populations have not yet been established. However, 
separation of the West Desert and Wasatch Front DPSs is supported by 
ecological and demographic distinctiveness due to geographic isolation 
and habitat differences, including disparate biological, chemical, and 
thermal characteristics of occupied springs and wetlands (Hovingh 1993, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1993). In addition, due to the 
dependence of spotted frogs on aquatic habitats (Bos and Sites 2001) 
and population isolation (Toline and Seitz 1999), there is likely no 
gene flow existing between the Wasatch Front and West Desert DPSs.
    The disjunct populations in Utah represent the southern extent of 
the species range (Stebbins 1985). Post-glacial climatic shifts allowed 
spotted frog populations to naturally distribute across drainage areas 
of the Bonneville Basin of Utah. The Bonneville Basin encompasses the 
area that was covered by ancient Lake Bonneville and which,

[[Page 55760]]

today, lies within the Great Basin province. The Great Basin province 
is distinguished geologically by parallel north-south mountain ranges 
separated by broad, alluvial desert basins (Christiansen 1951) and 
valleys. The steep, gravelly slopes of these ranges are prominently 
marked by benches and other shore features of Lake Bonneville. Springs 
commonly occur at the base of the mountains (Bick 1966) and in the 
valley floors. Several aquatic species have maintained an existence as 
relict populations in these springs, including the Columbia spotted 
frog, least chub, and several species of mollusks. However, these 
species are rare and in some areas the populations are declining. Rapid 
deterioration of aquatic environments, primarily from agricultural 
practices, has caused other unique Bonneville Basin species, such as 
Rhinichthys osculus relictus (Hubbs and Miller), a subspecies of dace, 
to become extinct (Hubbs et al. 1974).
    The Wasatch Front population occurs in isolated springs or riparian 
wetlands in Juab, Sanpete, Summit, Utah, Tooele, and Wasatch Counties. 
Columbia spotted frogs have been extirpated from the Salt Lake Valley 
and tributaries to the Jordan River and Great Salt Lake due to habitat 
loss from urban development. Currently, there are seven localized 
populations of spotted frog that comprise the Wasatch Front population 
or DPS. The largest known concentration is currently in the Heber 
Valley; the remaining six locations are Jordanelle/Francis, Springville 
Hatchery, Holladay Springs, Mona Springs Complex/Burraston Ponds, 
Fairview, and Vernon. For purposes of this finding, each distinct area 
within the Wasatch Front DPS that supports reproducing and self-
sustaining frogs is referred to as a population.
    Spotted frogs are aquatic specialists and more dependent on 
permanent aquatic habitats than other ranid species (Dumas 1966, 
Perkins and Lentsch 1998a). The majority of sightings and captures of 
this species have occurred while the frogs were submersed in water. 
Range-wide, spotted frogs use a variety of habitat types including cold 
water ponds, streams, lakes, and springs adjacent to mixed coniferous 
and subalpine forest, grassland, and brush land (Morris and Tanner 
1969, Stebbins 1985). On the Wasatch Front, they are usually found in 
emergent wetlands associated with riparian or isolated spring-fed 
habitat with cool and organic substrates (Dumas 1966, Morris and Tanner 
1969, Cuellar 1994). Habitat usually consists of a small spring, pond, 
or slough with a variety of herbaceous emergent, floating, and 
submergent vegetation. Spring vegetation most commonly associated with 
the spotted frog on the Wasatch Front includes: bullrush (Scirpus sp.), 
sedges (Carex spp.), cattails (Typha sp.), duckweed (lemnaceae), rushes 
(Juncus spp.), watercress (Nasturtium officinale), grasses (Graminae), 
and algae (Ross et al. 1994). Morris and Tanner (1969) suggest that 
deep silt or muck bottoms are required for hibernation and torpor.
    Spotted frogs emerge from hibernation in the spring and tend to use 
different habitats depending on their needs. For example, in 
Yellowstone National Park sexually immature individuals tended to 
inhabit aquatic habitats away from breeding adults (Turner 1958). 
Breeding adults may use areas in the absence of other age-classes, and 
move to sites near younger frogs as the water begins receding from the 
breeding area (Turner 1958). Turner (1960) suggested that spotted frogs 
have small home ranges. In Yellowstone National Park frogs were 
recaptured at or near the same location used for breeding. This 
hypothesis is supported by studies of spotted frogs in the Heber Valley 
where most individuals were recaptured in the site of their initial 
capture (Ammon and Wilson 2001).
    Recent studies have evaluated spotted frog locations and movements 
outside of the breeding season. Ongoing research in the Heber Valley of 
Utah indicates that spotted frogs travel short distances between 
breeding and post-breeding habitats, and many breeding sites serve as 
year-round habitat (Ammon and Wilson 2001). Bull and Hayes (2001) noted 
post-breeding dispersal distances of 15 to 560 meters (49 to 1,837 
feet) in spotted frogs in northeastern Oregon. Dispersal patterns were 
related to pond size, water temperatures, and proximity to other 
sources of permanent water. Dispersal corridors are typically limited 
to aquatic or semi-aquatic habitats such as streams, intermittent 
drainages, and seeps (Ross and Peterson 1998). Intensive mark-recapture 
and radiotelemetry studies are needed to determine actual movement 
distances and patterns in this and other Utah populations.
    Wasatch Front populations begin breeding in early-March with the 
spring thaw. However, populations at higher elevations may delay 
breeding until mid-March, and continue through late-April (UDWR data on 
file). Elevation differences in spotted frog breeding seasons have been 
similarly reported in British Columbia (Licht 1975) and Yellowstone 
National Park (Turner 1958), and are attributed to temperature 
differences. Spotted frogs are known to use temporary bodies of water 
for breeding in more mesic parts of their range (Turner 1960, Licht 
1971), but in Utah breeding sites are predominantly associated with a 
spring or some other permanent water source (Morris and Tanner 1969, 
Hovingh 1993, Ross et al. 1993, Ross et al. 1994).
    Egg deposition is stimulated by a single pair of frogs followed by 
other spotted frogs depositing eggs in the same area. It has been 
reported that they will deposit eggs in the same area annually (Morris 
and Tanner 1969, Nussbaum et al. 1983). Individual females may oviposit 
more than one clutch of eggs annually (Morris and Tanner 1969); 
however, this has not been confirmed in Utah populations. Sex ratios 
have not been quantified in Utah. For estimates of effective population 
size (Ne), UDWR used estimates of 1:1 sex ratios as derived 
from egg mass monitoring information during 1991-1993 surveys (Ross et 
al. 1993, 1994).
    Egg masses tend to be deposited in open, shallow (<20 centimeters/
7.9 inches) areas within 2 meters (6.6 feet) of the shoreline with 
water temperatures ranging between 11 deg.C and 20 deg.C (51 deg.F and 
68 deg.F) (Ross et al. 1993, 1994). Egg masses are weakly adhesive and 
form an irregular mass or globular cluster approximately 7.5 to 20 
centimeters (3 to 8 inches) in diameter. They may become weakly 
attached to vegetation (Chara spp.) for a short period of time. 
Eventually the mass floats to the surface, exposing the top layer of 
eggs. Wind and water currents often move masses around and they may 
begin to break up. Eventually the egg masses may become separated and 
covered with debris. Number of eggs per egg mass are quite variable, 
ranging from 147 to 1,160 eggs (Toone 1991). Individual eggs are 
typically larger than those of other ranids. Hatching rates vary 
directly with water temperature (Toone 1991).
    Studies in Montana, Oregon, and British Columbia have documented 
that insects are the primary prey for the spotted frog (Miller 1978, 
Whitaker et al. 1982, Licht 1986). These studies were performed in 
portions of the species range outside of Utah where spotted frogs 
inhabit different habitat types and may exhibit different life history 
characteristics. However, absent site-specific information, we can 
assume that the feeding habits of spotted frogs in Utah are similar to 
those documented in other areas.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act and implementing regulations (50 CFR part 424) 
set forth the procedures for adding

[[Page 55761]]

species to the Federal lists. A species may be determined to be an 
endangered or threatened species due to one or more of the five factors 
described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. An endangered species is one 
that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion 
of its range. A threatened species is one which is likely to become and 
endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. The five factors used in determining 
whether a species warrants listing as either threatened or endangered 
and their application to the Wasatch Front Columbia spotted frog (Rana 
luteiventris) are as follows:

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

    Urban growth with its associated water development and consequent 
losses of wetland and spring habitats were the primary causes for 
historical population losses and habitat fragmentation for the spotted 
frog on the Wasatch Front. Continued urbanization has been identified 
as a potential cause of concern for the spotted frog based on growth 
projections. The Wasatch Front human population is projected to 
increase to almost 3 million people by 2020 and 5 million by 2050 (Lee 
2001). Counties with extant populations of spotted frogs are 
experiencing high human population growth rates (Table 1).
    Approximately 14,400 hectares (35,500 acres) of wetland habitats 
are at direct risk from urban expansion by 2050 (Lee 2001, Lee and 
Melcher 2001). Development is projected to occur near most extant 
spotted frog populations by 2050. Urban development is not projected to 
occur in the vicinity of the Jordanelle/Francis population; however, 
recreational and rural residential development is increasing in the 
area and will likely continue. However, in and of themselves, general 
predictions about the degree of urbanization and other land uses in 
2050 are too distant in time and speculative in nature to support a 
finding that the spotted frog is likely to be in danger of extinction 
in the foreseeable future. Though three of the populations once faced 
more certain and immediate threats to their habitat, as discussed 
below, those threats have been sufficiently addressed by conservation 
actions currently in place.

   Table 1.--Projected Annual Growth Rates of the Human Population in
            Counties With Extant Populations of Spotted Frog
                            County                                rate
Utah..........................................................       3.8
Wasatch.......................................................       4.2
Summit........................................................       6.7
Juab..........................................................       4.2
Sanpete.......................................................      3.9
Note: Growth rates taken from Lee 2001 except for Summit County which
  was obtained from the web site, URL: http://utahreach.usu.edu/summit/

    Recent conservation and management efforts (Table 2) have 
successfully focused on addressing foreseeable habitat loss threats to 
an extent that alleviates the threat of urbanization at the extant 
populations. Water development was identified as negatively impacting 
spotted frog habitat in the Heber Valley. However, this threat was 
removed with the purchase of 125 cubic feet per second of riverine base 
flows and 650 acre-feet of water for restored habitats under the Provo 
River Restoration Project. A potential threat to the Mona/Burraston 
population of spotted frogs is groundwater withdrawals in the Juab 
Valley. Thiros (1999) estimated, using 1992 water withdrawal rates and 
assuming no additional water contributions to the system, the water 
table could be lowered by 1.5 m (5 ft) and groundwater discharge rates 
reduced by 38 percent by 2022. However, model predictions indicate that 
the groundwater level available to support wetland vegetation will not 
significantly decrease in the Mona/Burraston area (Thiros 1999) and 
habitat for this population of spotted frogs is not likely to be 
affected. Groundwater levels are currently sufficient to sustain the 
Mona/Burraston spotted frog population. Habitat acquisitions or 
easements have been completed to a large degree at three of the extant 
populations (Mona/Burraston, Heber Valley, Springville Hatchery) to 
protect the populations in perpetuity. For example, 85 percent of the 
Provo River corridor in the Heber Valley (including most occupied 
spotted frog habitat) has been purchased through conservation efforts 
and is protected in perpetuity through legally binding agreements. 
Because of this protection, urbanization is no longer a direct threat 
to these populations. Although the threats to the habitat of other 
populations are distant and speculative at this time, as discussed 
below in ``Recommendations for the Future,'' similar protection efforts 
are planned for those populations.
    Due in large part to habitat protection and conservation activities 
put in place during the past 5 years, the long-term viability of the 
Columbia spotted frog population on the Wasatch Front is stable to 
increasing. Recent survey efforts have discovered new breeding sites 
over larger areas, and documented larger population sizes than were 
previously known. The extant populations are more extensive, more 
connected and, therefore, more viable than previously thought.
    Although habitat acquisitions that are completed are sufficient to 
address the current threats to the Wasatch Front population of spotted 
frog, efforts continue for acquiring additional habitats. Habitat 
acquisitions, to date, were targeted in those populations where threats 
were the most imminent. Potential threats are minimal at the remaining 
unprotected populations and do not currently compromise the long-term 
persistence of the spotted frog.
    Given the habitat protection already in place, habitat loss is not 
likely to put the frog in danger of extinction in the foreseeable 
future. This is so even if none of the additional planned habitat 
protection is completed. To the extent that the additional protection 
is completed, it should further improve the status of spotted frog.

                         Table 2.--Habitat Protection at Extant Spotted Frog Populations
                                                          Acquisition or
      Subunit or population         Habitat quantity         easement          Habitat type     Purchase  status
Springville Hatchery............  22.3 ha (55 ac)....  Acquisition (State   Occupied spring     Completed
                                                        fish hatchery).      complex.
Mona/Burraston..................  34.6 ha (85.5 ac)..  Acquisition........  Occupied spring     Completed
Mona/Burraston..................  7.9 ha (19.5 ac)...  Acquisition or       Occupied spring     Ongoing
                                                        Easement.            complex.
Heber Valley....................  251 ha (620 ac)....  Acquisition........  Occupied riparian   Completed
Heber Valley....................  198 ha (490 ac)....  Acquisition........  Occupied riparian   Ongoing

[[Page 55762]]

Heber Valley....................  650 acre-feet (plus  Acquisition........  Stream flows to     Completed
                                   125 cfs base                              occupied riparian
                                   flows).                                   wetlands.
Jordanelle/Francis..............  9.7 km (6 mi), 6.5   Easement...........  Occupied riparian   Ongoing
                                   ha (16 ac).                               wetlands.
Fairview........................  162 ha (400 ac)....  Easement...........  Occupied spring     Ongoing
Utah Lake.......................  5,544 ha (13,700     Acquisition........  Unoccupied spring   Completed
                                   ac) (includes                             complexes.
                                   acquired lands).
Weber River.....................  3.2 km (2 mi)......  Acquisition........  Unoccupied          Completed
                                                                             riparian wetlands.
* A full list of all actions since 1998 (e.g., habitat enhancements, surveys, conservation easements) is in the
  appendix of this Status Review.

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

    The collection of spotted frogs is currently prohibited (State of 
Utah Rule R657-3). However, past collections of this species may have 
contributed to the extirpation of some populations on the Wasatch 
Front. In particular, spotted frogs were collected from the Provo, 
Springdell, and Vivian Park areas for universities (U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service 1993).
    Past and ongoing studies on the life history and habitat 
requirements of spotted frog in Heber Valley include the use of radio-
tags, PIT-tags, and general handling of individual frogs. However, 
there have been no documented injuries or mortalities due to research 
related activities (e.g., handling stress). Although these actions may 
increase the stress, disease risk, and mortality in this population, 
these studies are not a significant threat with the operating protocols 
and procedures to limit potential impacts in place.

C. Disease or Predation

    Predation by introduced species is a potential threat to the 
Wasatch Front spotted frog. Most spotted frog habitats in Utah were not 
historically inhabited by predatory fish species (Sigler and Miller 
1963). Today, a variety of introduced fishes, including largemouth 
bass, rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, common carp, 
mosquitofish, and rainwater killifish have become established in 
spotted frog habitats on the Wasatch Front. The potential threat 
appears highest from mosquitofish due to its affinity for the same 
systems as the spotted frog.
    The mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) is a small fish native to the 
eastern and southeastern United States. This species has been stocked 
throughout the world as a means of biological control for mosquitos 
(Sigler and Sigler 1996). Mosquito abatement districts have extensively 
stocked mosquitofish throughout various aquatic habitats in Utah 
including wetlands that have current or historic populations of spotted 
frog. Mosquitofish may be illegally transferred to new habitats by the 
general public or inadvertently transferred during relocation and 
reintroduction efforts for other aquatic species. Once introduced, 
mosquitofish can migrate to adjacent habitats.
    Mosquitofish pose a potential threat to spotted frogs because of 
their known aggressive predation on eggs and young of fishes and 
amphibians (Grubb 1972, Sigler and Sigler 1987). Mosquitofish are 
suspected to prey preferentially on amphibian larvae in the presence of 
other potential prey items (Goodsell and Kats 1999). Spotted frogs may 
be particularly susceptible to predation by mosquitofish because the 
frogs emerge from the egg at a very small size of 8-10 millimeters 
(Morris and Tanner 1969). Studies of the California red-legged frog 
(Rana aurora draytonii) showed that tadpoles of all sizes may be 
susceptible to mosquitofish predation; they found that mosquitofish 
were effective predators on tadpoles and could injure or kill tadpoles 
larger than themselves (Courtenay and Meffe 1989). Spotted frog larvae 
are unable to swim for a few days after hatching, thus inhibiting their 
ability to actively avoid predation (Morris and Tanner 1969). 
Mosquitofish have been observed preying on recently emerged spotted 
frog tadpoles in populations on the Wasatch Front (Ross et al. 1993; 
Chris Keleher, CUWCD, pers. comm.).
    Raccoons expanded their range into Utah over the past 25 years 
(Wilson and Balcomb 2001). Raccoon predation has been documented in the 
Heber Valley (K. Wilson, UDWR, pers. comm.). Although they are 
amphibian predators, the level of threat to the Wasatch Front spotted 
frog has not been determined. Bullfrogs, another nonnative predator, 
also are expanding their range into the Wasatch Front, but have not 
been documented in any spotted frog populations.
    To date, no spotted frog extirpations have been attributed to the 
presence of nonnative species. Population-level effects (i.e., 
population declines due to predation) by mosquitofish, and other 
predators, have not been observed on the Wasatch Front (K. Wilson pers. 
comm.). Available information suggests that spotted frogs are 
persisting with the presence of nonnative species. Based on numbers of 
breeding sites and egg masses, extant spotted frog populations are 
stable to increasing.
    Habitat protection and research efforts are continuing to explore 
control methodologies in the event that nonnative species could 
ultimately affect spotted frog populations. For example, newly created 
and restored habitats at Heber Valley and Jordanelle/Francis are being 
designed to prevent nonnative species invasions. Ongoing conservation 
actions at all occupied habitats include assessing the impacts of 
nonnative species on the spotted frog and active removal in some cases. 
For example, a mechanical removal effort targeting nonnative fish 
species (primarily mosquitofish) has been underway since 1999. Long-
term reduction of mosquitofish was not achieved; however, the 
documented temporary reduction has important implications toward 
substantially reducing mosquitofish numbers during critical life-stages 
of spotted frog (recently emerged tadpoles) and allowing better 
recruitment of spotted frog to adult life-stages (UDWR, unpubl.data). 
Given the known level of impact and the above-described conservation 
actions and protocols, predation by nonnative species does not threaten 
the persistence of Wasatch Front spotted frog populations.
    Chytrid fungus was recently discovered in the Heber Valley 
population of the spotted frog (Green and Converse 2002, Green and Sohn 
2002). Chytrid fungus has been implicated in precipitous declines of 
amphibian species worldwide (Berger et al. 1998, Longcore et al. 1999, 
Fellers et al. 2001, NWHC 2001). However, its role in the larger 
picture of frog population

[[Page 55763]]

dynamics, and more importantly, its implications for the spotted frog 
remains undefined. In fact, questions remain regarding the actual 
infection rate of chytrid in wild populations (Sredl 2000). Some 
researchers now speculate that the distribution and infection rate of 
chytrid may reflect more the extent to which biologists have tested for 
it as much as it reflects the actual distribution of infection (Fellers 
et al. 2001). Chytrid fungus may naturally occur in many amphibian 
populations that are only affected when other stressors or 
environmental factors interact synergistically to increase the 
virulence of the disease or compromise amphibian immune systems (Carey 
et al. 1999, Lips 1999). Some frog populations are known to have 
coexisted with chytrid fungus for decades (USFWS 2002).
    Some researchers speculate that the spotted frog may exhibit a 
resistance (David Green pers. comm. 2002) or adapt (Green and Converse 
2002, Green and Sohn 2002) to chytrid infection. Evidence suggests that 
amphibians infected with chytrid frequently die of dehydration because 
alteration of the skin inhibits their ability to absorb water. This is 
especially true in toads which, as opposed to frogs, have a limited 
area of skin over which to uptake water (i.e., the pelvic patch); 
chytrid die-offs have been seen much less frequently in more aquatic 
amphibians, such as salamanders. Researchers hypothesize that frogs 
avoid death by dehydration from chytrid infection because they more 
freely exchange water though skin over a large portion of their body. 
In this sense, spotted frogs, because they are highly aquatic in 
nature, may exhibit a similar ``resistance'' to chytrid infection 
(David Green pers. comm. 2002). The infected Heber Valley frogs 
exhibited a limited infection with chytrid present only on the toes; 
these individuals appeared to control and adapt to their chytrid 
infections (Green and Converse 2002, Green and Sohn 2002). The chytrid 
researchers believe that low-stress conditions in the laboratory may 
have allowed these spotted frogs to persist long after infection was 
    The Heber Valley population is the largest and most protected 
spotted frog population on the Wasatch Front. Habitat protection and 
conservation efforts have minimized or removed potential threats such 
as urbanization, predation, and water depletion as stressors from this 
population. Based on available information, the Heber Valley frogs are 
less likely to incur large-scale die-offs and are more likely to 
coexist with chytrid fungus in this low-stress environment. To prevent 
the potential for further spread of chytrid and other potential disease 
risks for spotted frogs, the UDWR has implemented strict disease 
protocols for managers and researchers working with spotted frog and 
other aquatic species in Utah. Implementation of these procedures is 
expected to greatly decrease the potential for chytrid to spread to 
other spotted frog populations. However, all Wasatch Front spotted frog 
populations will be closely monitored to identify any potential effects 
of chytrid.
    Our current understanding and the relatively low level of known 
infection of chytrid fungus provides a measure of assurance that the 
current infection will not put the spotted frog in danger of 
extinction. To ensure the accuracy of this analysis, efforts will be 
made to continue to document and control the spread of chytrid fungus.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Regulatory mechanisms did not halt the historical decline of the 
spotted frog along the Wasatch Front. However, historically, this was 
largely due to a lack of knowledge regarding the declining status of 
the spotted frog. Beginning in the mid-1990s, conservation of the 
spotted frog became a focus of many State and Federal agency efforts, 
resulting with implementation of the interagency Conservation Agreement 
and long-term protection for extant spotted frog populations. 
Importantly, the extant populations are now largely protected from 
imminent threats and there are ongoing conservation actions aimed at 
providing long-term protection for unoccupied habitats.
    Existing regulatory mechanisms that also may provide protection for 
spotted frogs and their habitats include--(1) State laws, (2) National 
Environmental Policy Act, and (3) section 404 of the Clean Water Act. 
These laws provide additional protection and awareness above and beyond 
completed and ongoing conservation efforts.
State Regulations
    The spotted frog is currently designated as a sensitive species in 
the State of Utah and is managed under a Conservation Agreement. State 
of Utah Rule 657-3 regulates the collection, importation, and 
possession of spotted frogs. The State of Utah Fish Stocking and 
Transfer Procedures (Policy  W2ADM-1) protects the spotted 
frog and other sensitive species in Utah by preventing the stocking of 
nonnative and other potentially harmful species in spotted frog 
habitats, and outlining protocols to decrease potential transmission of 
harmful pathogens to spotted frog populations.
National Environmental Policy Act
    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires Federal 
agencies to describe a proposed action, consider alternatives, 
identify, and disclose potential environmental impacts of each 
alternative, and involve the public in the decision-making process. 
Federal agencies are not required to select the alternative having the 
least significant environmental impacts, but environmental impacts, 
including those to wetlands and wildlife, are included as part of the 
public review process and NEPA analysis.
    The NEPA can be an effective mechanism in the conservation of the 
spotted frog where a Federal nexus exists, and agencies are actively 
involved in spotted frog conservation; i.e., the Conservation Agreement 
provides a mechanism for coordination and awareness in this regard. 
Land use and activities on private lands which includes more than half 
of the spotted frog populations are not required to comply with NEPA. 
Many large-scale land activities and water development projects 
occurred before there was a local awareness about the historically 
declining status of the spotted frog. However, most Federal agencies 
with interest or planned actions that might affect spotted frog are 
currently signatories to the Conservation Agreement. Although their 
involvement in and of itself does not legally bind the signatories to 
specific actions under NEPA, since the inception of the agreement these 
agencies have included spotted frog impacts and conservation as part of 
NEPA compliance.
Clean Water Act Section 404
    Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, administered by the 
Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, is the 
primary Federal law that potentially provides protection for the 
spotted frog by regulating fill to wetlands and other aquatic habitats 
determined to be ``jurisdictional,'' in part through proximity to 
surface water connections. The types of wetland impacts addressed by 
section 404 include:
    (1) Actions that impact jurisdictional wetlands defined as ``waters 
of the United States,'' 33 U.S.C. Sec. 1363(7);
    (2) Discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United 
States; and
    (3) Limited activities in upland habitats that may have indirect 

[[Page 55764]]

to adjacent wetlands where fill is permitted.
    Recent court decisions (National Mining Association v. U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers 145 F.3d-1399 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (overturning the 
Tulloch Rule); Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v.  United 
States Army Corps of Engineers 531 U.S. 159 (2001) (narrowing the 
definition of waters of the United States)) have recently reduced the 
authority of section 404 to protect wetland habitats.
    Because of their hydrologic connection to navigable waterways 
(e.g., Provo River, San Pitch River), the Corps still regulates the 
remaining unprotected remnant spotted frog wetland areas and large 
areas of unoccupied habitats. The Service maintains an important 
advisory role to the Corps in the section 404 permitting process. 
Because of questions concerning the success of spotted frog 
translocations and spotted frog habitat creation, recent discussions 
with the Corps have focused on using habitat protection (acquisitions, 
easements) and restoration techniques for mitigation of spotted frog 
habitats where necessary.
    Resource agencies have been successful at incorporating actions and 
project conditions that protect and enhance spotted frog habitat. 
Ongoing efforts include the protection and restoration of spotted frog 
habitat along the upper Provo River associated with the proposed 
Victory Ranch development and planned acquisitions of other properties 
along the Upper Provo River. In addition, ongoing negotiations have 
been successful in relocating a proposed wastewater treatment plant in 
the San Pitch Valley near Fairview to a location outside of spotted 
frog habitat. Furthermore, the applicant is proposing to donate 
approximately 1.6 hectares (4 acres) of mixed uplands and wetlands for 
a conservation easement for spotted frogs as a part of the project.
    Some areas of unoccupied habitats may be considered 
nonjurisdictional, i.e., not subject to regulations under section 404. 
However, a large portion of remaining unoccupied habitats are not 
imminently threatened, and some unoccupied suitable habitats, like 
those at Utah Lake and the Weber River, are protected in perpetuity. 
Unoccupied habitats are important for future reintroduction and range 
expansion efforts now that the extant populations are stable. Although 
there are no documented records of spotted frogs in these areas, Utah 
Lake and the Weber River fall within its historic range and provide 
presumably suitable habitat.
    In summary, section 404 certainly does not provide complete 
protection for the spotted frog and its habitats. Historically, 
regulatory inadequacies likely resulted in the loss of large amounts of 
occupied spotted frog habitats. Agencies have more recently been 
successful in working with local landowners and the 404 permitting 
process to protect and restore spotted frog populations and habitat. 
The cooperative environment that has resulted from the Conservation 
Agreement has facilitated efforts to prioritize the spotted frog 
through the section 404 permitting process. Because of this emphasis, 
actions that could affect occupied spotted frog habitats are more 
thoroughly evaluated and efforts are made to avoid or minimize 
potential impacts. Therefore, potential regulatory inadequacies do not 
threaten the long-term persistence of the Wasatch Front spotted frog.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting its Continued Existence

    Drought may play a role in reducing reproduction of spotted frogs 
on the Wasatch Front. Decreased rain and snowfall can dry wetlands, 
dessicate spotted frog egg masses and larvae, and reduce survival rates 
of subadults and adults (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2000). The 
combination of increased water demands and natural drought cycles may 
further reduce the extent and quality of spotted frog habitat and the 
size of the remaining populations on the Wasatch Front.
    Contaminants have not been specifically implicated in the decline 
of any spotted frog population on the Wasatch Front. However, given the 
prevalence of agriculture and urban development, the species is likely 
exposed to a variety of toxins from urban and agricultural sources. 
While the sensitivity of this species is largely unknown, studies of 
similar amphibian species show sublethal and lethal effects at the 
population level.
    These factors are not currently known to be significant threats to 
the long-term persistence of the Wasatch Front spotted frog.

Conclusions and Findings

Current Status

    Currently, there are seven populations of spotted frog included in 
the Wasatch Front DPS, including the newly discovered Vernon population 
in the Rush Valley near the town of Vernon. Survey efforts since 1999 
have greatly expanded the known range of most populations. Most 
notably, approximately 19 kilometers (12 miles) of occupied spotted 
frog habitat were discovered in the upper Provo River corridor. All 
extant populations, with the exception of the very small, isolated 
Springville Hatchery/T-Bone Bottom population, have either increased 
(documented colonization of unoccupied newly created or restored sites) 
or have been found to be of a larger population size (additional 
occupied sites or greater density of sites found within known 
population boundaries) than previously thought (Table 3).

         Table 3.--Numbers of Documented Breeding Sites in Spotted Frog Populations on the Wasatch Front
               Population                -----------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           1994    1995    1996    1997    1998    1999    2000    2001    2002
Jordanelle/Francis......................      14      14      14      14      14      23      23      33      48
Heber Valley............................      22      23      33      52      56      57      74      74      91
Springville Hatchery/T-Bone Bottom......       3       3       3       3       3       3       3       3       3
Burraston Ponds/Mona Springs Complex....       4       4       4       4       4       7       7       7       7
Holladay Springs........................       2       2       2       2       2       4       4       4       4
Fairview................................      11      11      11      11      11      13      26      26      26
Vernon..................................  ......  ......  ......  ......  ......  ......  ......  ......       1

    The Springville/T-Bone Bottom remains the most vulnerable to 
extirpation. All other populations (Heber Valley, Jordanelle/Francis, 
Mona/Burraston, Holladay, and Fairview) have exhibited stable or 
increasing egg-mass trends based on a review of almost 10 years of egg-
mass number data. Populations, however, are

[[Page 55765]]

cyclic and exhibit continuous, natural high/low fluctuations. 
Population declines are not unusual; amphibian populations are 
naturally dynamic, and exhibit sporadic breeding in response to 
environmental stressors (Duellmann and Trueb 1986).
    Population fluctuations (as evidenced by egg mass numbers) have 
occurred, but have been attributed to natural population dynamics 
resulting largely from climatic conditions, and not the result of 
changed landscape conditions. In addition, the Vernon population was 
discovered in 2002. This discovery and that of an additional 19 
kilometers (12 miles) of occupied habitat along the Provo River 
(Jordanelle/Francis population) implies that additional populations and 
occupied habitat could yet be discovered.
    Based on this recent data, extant populations of the Wasatch Front 
spotted frog DPS, after decades of decline, have been exhibiting a 
stable to increasing trend in the most recent time period examined 
(from 1998 to present; Table 4, Table 5).

  Table 4.--Numbers of Egg Masses at Documented Breeding Sites in Spotted Frog Populations on the Wasatch Front
           Population           --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   1994     1995     1996     1997     1998     1999     2000     2001     2002
Jordanelle/Francis.............       92       79       29       21       21       20       59       31       44
                                                                                 (63)     (99)    (165)    (260)
Heber Valley...................      120      156      323      219      176      206      151      123      206
                                            (167)    (473)    (491)    (372)    (438)    (431)    (418)    (550)
Springville Hatchery/T-Bone            7        6        0       65       87       44       50       25        9
Burraston Ponds/Mona Springs           5       66       63      148       78   61(78)     111P       69       41
 Complex.......................                                                          (120)     (73)     (41)
Holladay Springs...............       24       33       29       64      122      144      135       52       27
                                                                                (192)    (160)     (68)     (27)
Fairview.......................       35       34       24       24       22       17       59       20      * 8
                                                                                 (25)    (130)    (163)     (86)
Vernon.........................  .......  .......  .......  .......  .......  .......  .......  .......       4
() = egg masses at original breeding site + egg masses at recently discovered breeding sites.
* Three of 11 sites were not surveyed because access was mistakenly denied to the property. This situation has
  been corrected and full access to these sites has been restored.

                               Table 5.--Summary of Spotted Frog Population Trends
               Time period                    Number of populations             Population stability/size
Pre-settlement...........................  18 \a\            No data.
Early to Mid 1900s.......................  18 \a\                       Presumed decreasing.
Up to 1993...............................  9                            Documented decreased.
1995 to 1998.............................  6                            Stable.
1998 to 2002.............................  7 \b\                        Stable to increasing.
\a\ Includes documented historic and current populations. Current populations are assumed to have been present
\b\ Includes recently discovered Vernon population.

    The recent change in species status and trends is due in part to 
our increased knowledge of the species distribution and in part due to 
the success of already-completed conservation efforts that have 
minimized or reduced many of the imminent threats to extant 
populations. Although not all actions necessary to alleviate concerns 
have been completed, completed conservation actions have addressed and 
removed or sufficiently reduced threats and the risk of extinction.
    The development and implementation of the Conservation Agreement 
represented an important shift in awareness and effort for conservation 
of the Wasatch Front spotted frog. Since the initiation of the 
Conservation Agreement in 1997-1998 and the subsequent conservation 
actions, monitoring and survey data has shown that populations are 
larger than previously thought.
    Conservation actions have been successful at addressing localized 
threats to the species at the extant population areas. For example, 
habitat protection and removal of grazing at Mona Springs has resulted 
in significant improvements to spotted frog habitat. Habitat 
acquisitions specific for existing spotted frog populations have 
occurred (e.g., Heber Valley and Mona/Burraston) and significant 
acreages of unoccupied historic habitat have been purchased and 
protected (e.g., Utah Lake Wetland Preserve) as mitigation for prior 
impacts to aquatic resources associated with the Central Utah Project. 
Funds also have been allocated for research into the life history, 
habitat requirements, and genetics of the spotted frog.
    Specific conservation actions and large-scale land acquisitions 
have occurred that may provide reintroduction areas for spotted frog 
range expansion efforts. For example, acquisition of the Utah Lake 
Wetland Preserve and parcels in the Weber River drainage to provide 
historical, but currently unoccupied habitats.

Population Viability

    Of the extant populations, there is a range of ecological size and 
function that provides a level of diversity. Some populations occur 
along riparian wetland corridors while others occupy complex spring 
systems in the valley floor. Although populations are undoubtedly 
smaller than they were historically, most exhibit stable or increasing 
trends. The Heber Valley, Jordanelle/Francis, Fairview, and

[[Page 55766]]

possibly the Mona/Burraston population are large enough to provide some 
small scale metapopulation function (genetic and demographic buffer) 
within individual population boundaries. Although not discrete 
populations, these locations occur over a geographic area of sufficient 
size and habitat diversity to yield localized genetic interchange. 
These sub-population dynamics provide local genetic and demographic 
buffer for the overall population. Other populations like the 
Springville and Holladay populations, provide small, isolated genetic 
and demographic refuge and a locally unique ecological function to the 
Wasatch Front DPS.
    There is no specific answer in conservation literature as to the 
number of populations necessary to allow long-term persistence of a 
species in a natural evolutionary trajectory. For amphibians, most 
experts agree metapopulation dynamics provide a critical role in 
population stability. In the absence of large, connected 
metapopulations, multiple spotted frog populations of different sizes 
that represent a range of natural ecological function can provide a 
reasonable level of assurance for long-term persistence of the species. 
Newly created or isolated small populations can provide demographic and 
genetic refuge for other populations. Larger, better connected 
populations can prevent loss of genetic diversity and prevent 
detrimental genetic affects that can occur in small populations.
    The number of extant populations is one factor affecting the 
viability of a species. The greater number of populations that occur, 
the less likely the species will go extinct. This also can be 
misleading. One large metapopulation fragmented into two smaller 
populations by human impacts does not translate into a greater chance 
of persistence. Other factors, such as population size (relative 
density, abundance, or effective size) and stability (protection of 
habitat, stable or increasing trend in monitoring data) must be 
considered in concert with number of populations. When there is a 
positive or stable trend in population size and numbers and a reduction 
in threats due to completed and ongoing conservation actions, the 
species is likely to persist into the future.


    The overall level of threats to the long-term persistence of the 
Wasatch Front spotted frog has decreased in recent years, particularly 
since 1998. Although most of the human activities that contributed to 
these threats still occur to some extent throughout the Wasatch Front, 
there is no longer the same level of impacts on the spotted frog that 
resulted in past wide-spread habitat destruction and the loss of 
spotted frog populations. Much of the occupied habitat for the spotted 
frog is under State or Federal ownership and ongoing management of 
these lands emphasizes the long-term persistence of the spotted frog. 
This is not to say that threats have been eliminated. Localized areas 
continue to be affected by specific problem activities.
    However, mechanisms are in place through Federal, State, and local 
conservation and land-use plans to identify these activities, correct 
the problems, and protect spotted frog populations. To date, these 
actions have been successful at reducing threats to extant populations, 
largely by acquiring important habitats and implementing management 
actions that improve habitat conditions. Success is evidenced by the 
stable to improving status of the spotted frog throughout the Wasatch 
Front in the most recent time period evaluated.
    Based on this analysis of the effects of conservation actions 
already in place, the trajectory of the Wasatch Front spotted frog 
status continues to be towards more secure populations, reduced 
threats, and improved habitat conditions. Although some threats 
continue and may increase, most threats have been or are being 
addressed through completed or ongoing actions and at this time do not 
threaten the long-term persistence of the spotted frog. Our analysis of 
the five factors under section 4(a)(1), individually and collectively, 
indicates that the spotted frog is not in danger of extinction or 
likely to become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future 
throughout all or a significant portion of the Wasatch Front. 
Therefore, the Service finds that the Wasatch Front spotted frog is 
``not warranted'' for listing under the Act. If new information 
indicating that the level of threats have become more severe or the 
status of the spotted frog or its habitat degenerates in the future, 
the status of the spotted frog will be reevaluated.

Recommendations for the Future

    Following historical habitat and population losses, the current 
populations are stable to improving and most are protected to a large 
degree from ongoing direct habitat loss, due to already completed 
conservation actions. Further habitat acquisitions and protections are 
in progress for the Jordanelle/Francis, Heber Valley, Mona/Burraston, 
and Fairview populations. Current ventures are focused on acquiring 
habitat easements along approximately 9.7 kilometers (6 miles) above 
Jordanelle Dam, including occupied and suitable spotted frog habitats. 
Easements are currently being pursued with 7 Fairview landowners to 
protect approximately 162 hectares (400 acres) of occupied spotted frog 
habitat and migration corridors from potential water and residential 
development. The remaining 15 percent of the Provo River corridor in 
the Heber Valley is projected to be purchased and protected by 2004. In 
the Mona/Burraston population, fee-title purchase or conservation 
easements are currently being negotiated for 7.9 hectares (19.5 acres) 
which would allow for protection of all spring and potential spotted 
frog habitat on this site.
    Completion of habitat protection activities which have resulted in 
a reduction of threats to the extant populations allows conservation 
efforts to now focus on population expansion into historic, unoccupied 
habitats. Habitat protection and reintroduction of frogs into suitable, 
unoccupied habitats will further improve the long-term status of the 
species along the Wasatch Front. For example, recent habitat 
acquisitions that also will benefit the spotted frog include 5,544 
hectares (13,700 acres) at Utah Lake and 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) along 
the upper Weber River.
    Therefore, the focus of spotted frog conservation efforts can 
reasonably shift to acquisition of additional occupied and unoccupied, 
suitable habitats and range expansion efforts, including:
    (1) Land protection mechanisms, such as conservation easements and 
fee-title acquisitions generally provide the most long-term benefits 
for sensitive species. Voluntary conservation actions on parcels of 
private land may provide site-specific benefits to the frog. Future 
conservation should continue to focus on land acquisition and easements 
that include buffer zones sufficient to minimize direct and indirect 
impacts from land use as well as protection and maintenance of 
dispersal or migration corridors. Furthermore, steps should be taken to 
protect water sources (i.e., Juab Valley) where potential threats are 
    (2) Although there is no specific number of populations necessary 
to prevent extinction, reintroduced populations provide ecological 
redundancy in ecological function and genetic and demographic 
stochasticity. There are several habitats already identified which may 
provide suitable reintroduction sites. Future conservation should 
include reestablishment of spotted frog populations, and associated 

[[Page 55767]]

and land management necessary to maintain new populations in: (1) Areas 
where populations previously occurred if suitable habitat remains and 
(2) other suitable habitat within the natural range of the species.
    (3) Some Wasatch Front spotted frog populations are notably small 
in size and vulnerable to risks of detrimental genetic processes 
(inbreeding, loss of genetic diversity) and demographic uncertainty. 
Springville Hatchery/T-Bone Bottom population is particularly 
vulnerable based on its current size and decreasing trend. Actions 
should be taken to augment or through some other process, increase the 
size of this population. Furthermore, the current trend should be 
evaluated to determine if specific land or water use activities are 
exacerbating the decrease. If specific threats are identified, priority 
should be placed on reducing these threats such that the population 
would remain secure into the future.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited is available upon request 
from the Utah Field Office (see ADDRESSES above).


    The primary authors of this document are Jessica Gourley and Laura 
Romin (see ADDRESSES above).


    The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered 
Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

    Dated: August 23, 2002.
Steve Williams,
[FR Doc. 02-22160 Filed 8-29-02; 8:45 am]