[Federal Register: April 25, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 79)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 23886-23893]
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: 90-Day Finding on 
a Petition To List the Siskiyou Mountains Salamander and Scott Bar 
Salamander as Threatened or Endangered

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding on a petition to list the Siskiyou Mountains salamander 
(Plethodon stormi) and Scott Bar salamander (Plethodon asupak) as 
threatened or endangered, under the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). We find that the petition 
and additional information in our files do not present substantial 
scientific or commercial information indicating that listing these 
species may be warranted. We will not be initiating a status review in 
response to this petition. We ask the public to submit to us any new 
information that becomes available concerning the status of, or threats 
to these species.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on April 17, 
2006. You may submit new information concerning these species for our 
consideration at any time.

ADDRESSES: The complete file for this finding is available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the Yreka 
Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1829 S. 
Oregon Street, Yreka, California 96097. Submit new information, 
materials, comments, or questions concerning these species to us at the 
address above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Phil Detrich, Field Supervisor, Yreka 
Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES), or at (530) 842-5763.



    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires that the Service make a 
finding on whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species 
presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating 
that the petitioned action may be warranted. This finding is based on 
information contained in the petition and information otherwise 
available in our files at the time we make the finding. To the maximum 
extent practicable, we are to make this finding within 90 days of our 
receipt of the petition, and publish our notice of the finding promptly 
in the Federal Register.
    In making this finding, we relied on information provided by the 
petitioners and otherwise available in our files at the time of the 
petition review. We also had access to a Geographic Information System 
database of all known Siskiyou Mountain salamander and Scott Bar 
salamander sites, based on data obtained from researchers, the State of 
California, the United States Forest Service, and private land 
managers. We evaluated this information in accordance with 50 CFR 
424.14(b). The process of making a 90-day finding under section 
4(b)(3)(A) of the Act and section 424.14(b) of our regulations is based 
on a determination of whether the information in the petition meets the 
``substantial scientific or commercial information'' threshold.
    Our standard for substantial scientific or commercial information 
within the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) with regard to a 90-day 
petition finding is ``that amount of information that would lead a 
reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition 
may be warranted'' (50 CFR 424.14(b)). If we find that substantial 
scientific or commercial information was presented, we are required to 
promptly commence a status review of the species.
    On June 18, 2004, we received a petition dated June 16, 2004 from 
the Center for Biological Diversity, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, 
and Noah Greenwald, to list the Siskiyou Mountains salamander 
(Plethodon stormi) as a threatened or endangered species on behalf of 
themselves and five other organizations. Since the time of the 
petition, Mead et al. (2005) recognized the Scott Bar salamander 
(Plethodon asupak) as a species separate from the Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander. In their petition, the petitioners requested that the Scott 
Bar salamander also be considered for listing if the Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander and the Scott Bar salamander were determined to be separate 
species. Given the recent recognition of these as separate taxa, we 
acknowledge that some may question the validity of these species. 
However, elucidating these taxonomic questions is not the purpose of 
this finding. The purpose of this finding is to determine whether or 
not the petition presented substantial information regarding the status 
of these species within the context of the ESA. The petitioners also 
requested designation of critical habitat for these species concurrent 
with their listing. The petition clearly identified itself as such and 
included the requisite identification information for the petitioners, 
as required in 50 CFR 424.14(a). In a July 19, 2004 letter to the 
petitioners, we responded that we reviewed the petition for both 
species and determined that an emergency listing was not warranted, and 
that because of inadequate funds for listing and critical habitat 
designation, we would not be able to otherwise address the petition to 
list the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar salamander at that 
    On June 23, 2005, we received a 60-day notice of intent to sue and 
on August 23, 2005, the Center for Biological Diversity and four other 
groups filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief in 
Federal District Court for the District of Oregon (Center for 
Biological Diversity, et al. v. Norton et al., No. 3:05-CV-1311-BR), 
challenging our failure to issue a 90-day finding on the petition to 
list the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar salamander. On 
December 28, 2005, we reached an agreement with the plaintiffs to 
complete the 90-day finding by April 15, 2006, and if substantial, to 
complete the 12-month finding by January 15, 2007.

Species Information

    For the purpose of this finding, the Service is evaluating the 
Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar salamander separately. 
However, we recognize that all research on the ecology of these species 
was conducted prior to Mead et al.'s (2005) recognition of the Scott 
Bar salamander as a separate species. To date, information specific to 
the Scott Bar salamander is limited to its distribution and range. Both 
species are members of the Family Plethodontidae, the lungless 
salamanders, and as such their survival is dependent upon similar 
ecological requirements. The geographic ranges of the Siskiyou 
Mountains salamander and Scott Bar salamander are contiguous, occur 
over a relatively

[[Page 23887]]

small area (approximately 405,000 acres (164,000 ha)), and have similar 
environmental conditions. Additionally, information in our files 
suggests that habitat associations of these species are generally the 
same, although a rigorous study comparing their habitat requirements 
has not been conducted. The most significant difference between these 
species is their range; the range of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander 
is approximately five times larger than that of the Scott Bar 
salamander. Therefore, for the purpose of this finding, the Service 
applied the current literature describing the biological 
characteristics and ecology of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander to 
both species. Further, we recognized both entities as separate species 
consistent with the petition under review while acknowledging that 
taxonomic questions may exists. It is not the purpose of this finding 
to resolve such questions.

Description and Taxonomy

    Like others in the genus Plethodontidae, the Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander and Scott Bar salamander are completely terrestrial, medium-
sized, slender-bodied salamanders with short limbs and a dorsal stripe. 
Both species are found in or near talus (loose surface rock) and 
fissured rock outcrops where moisture and humidity are high enough to 
allow respiration through their skin (Nussbaum et al. 1983). Both 
species are endemic to the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains of southern 
Oregon and northern California.
    The Siskiyou Mountains salamander was described in 1965 (Highton 
and Brame 1965) and is characterized by a modal number of 17 costal 
grooves (vertical creases along the side of the body) and 4 to 5.5 
intercostal folds (folds of skin between the costal grooves) between 
the toes of adpressed limbs (limbs firmly pressed against the sides of 
the body) (Nussbaum et al. 1983; Leonard et al. 1993). Adults have a 
light- to purplish-brown dorsum and the body is sprinkled with a 
moderate to dense array of white to yellow flecks, concentrated on the 
sides and limbs and away from the light-brown dorsal stripe. Juveniles 
are black and have an olive-tan dorsal stripe that extends onto the 
    Recent genetic analyses recognize the Siskiyou Mountains salamander 
as a distinct species from the Del Norte salamander (Plethodon 
elongatus) and the Scott Bar salamander (Mead et al. 2002, 2005; 
Mahoney 2004; Bury and Welsh 2005). Previously, observations of clinal 
variation in color and morphometric traits from coastal populations of 
Del Norte salamanders along the Klamath River to Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander populations in the Seiad Valley led Bury (1973) to propose 
possible intergradation between these two species, and Stebbins (1985, 
2003) to demote the Siskiyou Mountains salamander to a subspecies of 
Del Norte salamander.
    Mead et al. (2005) described Plethodon asupak, the Scott Bar 
salamander, as a new species based on analysis of molecular 
(mitochondrial DNA) and morphological data from Plethodon populations 
near the confluence of the Klamath and Scott Rivers in Siskiyou County, 
California (Mahoney 2004; Mead et al. 2002, 2005). Molecular analysis 
shows the Scott Bar salamander to be the ancestral lineage from which 
the Del Norte salamander and Siskiyou Mountains salamander were derived 
(Mahoney 2004; Mead et al. 2002, 2005). For the purpose of this 
finding, the Service is evaluating the Scott Bar salamander as a 
species separate from the Siskiyou Mountains salamander. We recognize, 
however, that genetic research on these salamanders is ongoing, and the 
final species' designations may be subject to the outcome of ongoing 
work. This additional work may result in questions regarding the 
taxonomic validity of these species and we acknowledge the potential 
for those questions to be raised in the future. However, it is not 
appropriate to elucidate these potential questions in this action.
    The Scott Bar salamander is more robust and has a wider head and 
longer limbs than either of its two most closely related sister 
species, the Del Norte salamander and Siskiyou Mountains salamander 
(Mead et al. 2005). It has fewer intercostal folds between adpressed 
limbs (2.5 to 3.5) than either the Del Norte salamander (5 to 6) or the 
Siskiyou Mountains salamander (4 to 5) and the modal number of costal 
grooves (17) is one less than in the Del Norte salamander (18). The 
Scott Bar salamander has a longer body relative to its tail length and 
longer forelimbs and hindlimbs than the Siskiyou Mountains salamander 
or Del Norte salamander. The coloration of the Scott Bar salamander is 
similar to that of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and is described 
in Mead et al. (2005). Despite the morphological differences described 
in Mead et al. (2005), the two species are very difficult to 
distinguish in the field.


    Siskiyou Mountains salamanders and Scott Bar salamanders are found 
on forested slopes where rocky soils and talus outcrops occur. Occupied 
habitat for the Siskiyou Mountains salamander can range from small 
isolated rock outcrops to entire hillsides (Clayton et al. 2004). 
Occasionally these salamanders can be found under other types of cover 
such as bark, limbs, or logs, but only during wet weather when moisture 
is high and only if there are talus outcrops nearby (Nussbaum et al. 
1983; Nussbaum 1974). Nussbaum (1974) characterized optimal habitat for 
the Siskiyou Mountains salamander as stabilized talus in old-growth 
forest stands on north-facing slopes. However, more recently 
populations of both species have been found in rock outcrops in all 
forest age classes and on all slope aspects (Clayton et al. 2004; USDI 
2005 in litt.), as well as in managed stands (CDFG 2005). Siskiyou 
Mountains salamanders have been collected in the spring during the 
daytime at soil temperatures ranging from 38 to 52.3 degrees Fahrenheit 
(3.5 to 11.3 degrees Celsius) and at depths ranging from 0 to 18.0 
inches (0 to 45.7 centimeters) (Nussbaum et al. 1983; Nussbaum 1974).

Range and Distribution

    The Siskiyou Mountains salamander's range encompasses approximately 
337, 037 acres (ac) (136,500 hectares (ha)) in three counties (Jackson, 
Josephine, and Siskiyou) of southwestern Oregon and northern California 
(Clayton and Nauman 2005a). More specifically, this species has been 
detected in the Applegate River drainage of southern Oregon south to 
the Klamath River watershed of northern California. In California, 
recent genetic analyses indicate the species' range is bounded to the 
west by the Indian Creek drainage and to the east by the Horse Creek 
drainage (see DeGross 2004; Mahoney 2004; Mead et al. 2005; Mead 2006). 
It is known from sites ranging from 488 meters (1,600 feet) (Nussbaum 
et al. 1983) to approximately 1,800 meters (6,000 feet) in elevation 
(Clayton et al. 1999). Approximately 90 percent of the Siskiyou 
Mountains salamander's range occurs on Federal lands managed under the 
Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) (USDA, USDI 1994). Within the NWFP area, 
36 percent of the salamander's range occurs in reserves (Late-
Successional Reserves, Administratively Withdrawn Areas, and 
Congressionally Reserved Areas) where timber harvest and other ground-
disturbing activities are severely restricted, 10 percent is within 
Matrix lands generally available for timber harvest, and 44 percent 
occurs in Adaptive Management Areas (AMA) where habitat management 
guidelines are flexible and some timber

[[Page 23888]]

harvest is expected to occur. The remaining 10 percent of the species' 
range occurs on private lands.
    To date, approximately 200 Siskiyou Mountains salamander sites have 
been located (Clayton and Nauman 2005a). This number represents an 
unknown proportion of the total population, because surveys have not 
been conducted over the species' entire range. These localities occur 
primarily on Federal lands and are distributed across several NWFP land 
use allocations (Clayton et al. 2004). The USDA, USDI Species Review 
Panel (2002) reported that approximately 23 percent of known sites 
occur on reserve lands (Late-Successional Reserves and Congressionally 
Withdrawn Areas) (USDA, USDI 1994). The remaining sites occur on 
Adaptive Management Areas, Matrix, and private lands.
    The Scott Bar salamander is found only in Siskiyou County, 
California, from just east of Seiad Valley to Scott Bar Mountain 
(Clayton and Nauman 2005b). The species' range extends north and south 
of the Klamath River and east and west of the Scott River and 
encompasses approximately 68,438 ac (27,717 ha). Approximately 82 
percent of the Scott Bar salamander's range occurs on Federal lands: 58 
percent in reserves (Late-Successional Reserves) and 24 percent in 
Matrix lands (USDA, USDI 1994). The remaining 18 percent of the 
species' range occurs on private lands.
    Clayton and Nauman (2005b) reported that fewer than ten localities 
are currently known for the Scott Bar salamander, although other 
locations are suspected. Based on our internal review of recent genetic 
analyses (Mahoney 2004; Mahoney 2005; Mead et al. 2005; Mead 2006), 17 
Scott Bar salamander localities have now been verified. Within the 
presumed range of the Scott Bar salamander, numerous historical 
salamander detections have been assigned to the Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander. Because the two species tend not to overlap (Mead 2006), it 
is reasonable to conclude that all salamander detections within what is 
now known to be the range of the Scott Bar salamander are Scott Bar 
salamanders. Thus, information in our files suggests that within the 
range of the Scott Bar salamander there are roughly twenty known 
salamander localities that are likely occupied by Scott Bar salamanders 
and are additional to the 17 noted above (USDI in litt. 2006). To date, 
systematic surveys have not been conducted throughout this species' 
range; however, additional sites may be located in the future.
    The verified localities of the Scott Bar salamander are distributed 
across several watersheds that encompass the majority of the species' 
known range. Of these localities, 82 percent occur on Federal lands: 35 
percent in reserves (Late-Successional Reserves) and 47 percent in 
Matrix lands (USDA, USDI 1994). The remaining 18 percent of the 
verified localities occur on private lands. Although the sample of 
known localities was not collected systematically, this distribution 
suggests that the species may be well distributed within its range.
    Evaluation of the range and potential population size for the 
Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar salamander is strongly 
influenced by the amount and distribution of potentially suitable 
habitat. The USDA, USDI Species Review Panel (2001) evaluated results 
of project surveys conducted in the northern portion of the Siskiyou 
Mountains salamander's range, and estimated that 3 to 14 percent of the 
extent surveyed provides potentially suitable habitat. In a similar 
evaluation, Timber Products Company estimated that approximately 18 
percent of their surveyed lands within the range of the Scott Bar 
salamander was composed of suitable talus habitat (S. Farber pers. 
comm. 2006). The information from both surveys suggests that suitable 
habitat for these species is patchy within these species' ranges.

Threats Analysis

    Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 424) 
set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal list of 
endangered and threatened species. 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: (A) Present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or range; (B) 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors 
affecting its continued existence. In making this finding, we evaluated 
whether threats to the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar 
salamander as presented in the petition and other information available 
to us may pose a concern with respect to the species' survival such 
that listing under the Act may be warranted. Our evaluation of these 
threats, based on information provided in the petition and available in 
our files, is presented below.

A. Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of 
the Species' Habitat or Range

    The petition claims that logging and wildfire pose the primary 
threats to Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar salamander 
habitat and populations by altering habitat structures that influence 
the microclimatic conditions required by both species. The petition 
states that logging and wildfire cause increases in surface 
temperatures and decreases in relative humidity and soil moisture by 
removing forest cover. It also states that logging has the additional 
effect of compacting and realigning talus substrates. The petition 
states that it is likely a substantial, yet unquantified, amount of 
habitat has already been lost due to logging activities.
    According to the petition, the effects of logging and wildfire on 
Siskiyou Mountains and Scott Bar salamanders are based on a sequence of 
relationships: the unique physiology and behavior of these species, 
their dependence on moist surface conditions in order to forage and 
reproduce, reduction of the occurrence of favorable surface conditions 
following loss of forest cover, and loss of viability of salamander 
populations inhabiting the resulting unfavorable conditions. Based on 
these assertions, the petition concludes that the rate and extent of 
timber harvest and fires will likely cause the two species to be 
threatened or endangered due to habitat loss in the foreseeable future.
    The petition and information in our files describe the 
physiological and behavioral traits of Siskiyou Mountains salamanders 
and Scott Bar salamanders that link them to habitats that provide moist 
conditions. Both species are lungless salamanders that require moisture 
in order to respire through their skin and to avoid dessication 
(Nussbaum et al. 1983). These traits act to limit the time during which 
the species can be active at the surface where foraging takes place 
(Nussbaum et al. 1983; Feder 1983). In the warm, dry environment 
characteristic of the eastern Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains, surface 
conditions favorable for activity by these salamanders is limited to 
relatively brief rainy periods in the spring and fall when soil 
moisture and relative humidity are high and temperatures moderate 
(Nussbaum et al. 1983; Clayton et al. 1999). This limitation is 
reflected in survey protocols for Siskiyou Mountains salamander, which 
require that surveys be restricted to periods of relative humidity 
above 65 percent, air

[[Page 23889]]

temperature between 39.2 and 68 Fahrenheit (4 to 20 degrees Celsius), 
soil temperature between 38.3 and 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3.5 to 18 
degrees Celsius), and moist soil conditions; outside of these 
parameters detection rates are low (Clayton et al. 1999). During the 
remainder of the year, these salamanders retreat underground into 
fissured rock substrates (Nussbaum et al. 1983).
    Based on the relationships described above, the petition claims 
that habitat conditions that further limit aboveground activity will 
result in reduced abundance and viability of Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander and Scott Bar salamander populations. The petition cites 
Ollivier et al. (2001), who state that shortened periods of surface 
conditions appropriate for feeding and breeding activities can limit 
both survivorship and recruitment of these salamanders due to reduced 
ability to achieve body mass and fat needed for reproduction. Based on 
physiological and ecological studies of plethodontid salamanders (Feder 
1983), and the association of Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott 
Bar salamanders (and the closely related Del Norte salamander in the 
Klamath province) with mature forested habitats (Nussbaum et al. 1983; 
Ollivier et al. 2001; Welsh and Lind 1988; 1991; and 1995), it is 
reasonable to conclude that individuals living in drier, more open 
conditions may experience reduced fitness.
    The petition cites Chen et al. (1993) to support the claim that 
removing or reducing canopy during logging or other activities can 
alter stand microclimates, which in turn would result in conditions 
unsuitable for surface activity by salamanders. Information in our 
files suggests that microclimatic variables such as soil moisture, fuel 
moisture, relative humidity, and air temperature are sensitive to 
changes in canopy, with open-canopied and unforested sites exhibiting 
drier conditions, reduced humidity, and warmer air and soil 
temperatures (Chen et al. 1995; Chen et al. 1999).
    The petition states that rigorous pre- and post-logging studies 
have not been conducted on Siskiyou Mountains salamanders or Scott Bar 
salamanders. Information in our files also indicates that this type of 
study has not been conducted on the similar Del Norte salamander in the 
drier portions of its range. However, the petition cites several 
studies from across North America (Dupuis et al. 1995; deMaynadier and 
Hunter 1998; Ash 1997; Herbeck and Larsen 1999) and specific to the 
Pacific Northwest (Bury and Corn 1988; Corn and Bury 1991; Raphael 
1988; Welsh 1990; Welsh and Lind 1988, 1991, and 1995) that describe 
impacts of logging to other plethodontid salamanders. It is important 
to note that studies conducted in eastern and mid-western North America 
and much of the Pacific Northwest (Grialou et al. 2000; Bury and Corn 
1988; Corn and Bury 1991; Raphael 1988; Welsh 1990; and Welsh and Lind 
1988, 1991, and 1995) were conducted in mesic (relatively wet) forest 
types where environmental constraints (moisture, temperature) on 
salamander dispersal and survival are presumably less than in the dry 
eastern Klamath Mountains. In addition, most plethodontid salamander 
species studied in other areas of North America occupy soil, surface 
litter, and woody debris in mesic environments, whereas Siskiyou 
Mountains salamanders and Scott Bar salamanders occupy talus substrates 
that provide refuge from temperature extremes and dry conditions in 
xeric (relatively dry) environments. Therefore, inferences drawn from 
studies of other plethodontid species in mesic environments may be 
limited in their applicability to Siskiyou Mountains salamander or 
Scott Bar salamander populations in the dry eastern Klamath Mountains.
    Studies from the mid-western and eastern United States (deMaynadier 
and Hunter 1998; Ash 1997; Herbeck and Larsen 1999) and western Canada 
(Dupuis et al. 1995) indicate that clear-cutting can have significant 
short-term impacts to plethodontid salamander abundance, and that 
second-growth stands that regenerate following clear-cutting typically 
do not support the same level of abundance as do older forests. Dupuis 
et al. (1995), Ash (1997), and Herbeck and Larsen (1999) reported that 
plethodontid salamanders were frequently absent from 2 to 5-year-old 
clear-cut forests. All of the studies that examined relative abundance 
of plethodontid salamanders in different forest age classes 
(deMaynadier and Hunter 1998; Herbeck and Larsen 1999; Dupuis et al. 
1995) found that second-growth stands supported salamanders, albeit at 
significantly lesser abundance than older forests. However, the impact 
of clear-cutting on salamanders may be temporary, as one study (Ash 
1997) showed that salamanders returned to clear-cut area 4 to 6 years 
after cutting, and their numbers increased rapidly. Results from linear 
regressions estimated that salamander numbers on clear-cut plots would 
equal or exceed numbers on forested plots by 20 to 24 years after 
cutting (Ash 1997).
    Studies of more closely related plethodontid salamanders in the 
Pacific Northwest (Corn and Bury 1991; Raphael 1988; Welsh 1990; and 
Welsh and Lind 1988, 1991, and 1995) found the abundance of 
plethodontid salamanders to be greater in older versus younger forests, 
and most of these studies found that difference to be significant. 
However, salamanders were still present in harvested areas. Raphael 
(1988) reported that while Del Norte salamanders were 2 to 3 times more 
abundant in adjacent old-growth forest, clear-cut areas still contained 
the species. Additional information in our files (Grialou et al. 2000) 
also suggests that western red-backed salamanders (Plethodon vehiculum) 
occupy recent 2 to 4 year-old clear-cut areas, although at a 
significantly lesser abundance than adjacent older forests. H. Welsh 
and D. Ashton (in litt. 2004) obtained similar results for Del Norte 
salamanders on the Six Rivers National Forest, where salamander 
abundance showed a marked decline following clear-cutting, but remained 
relatively stable in a lightly harvested stand. However, studies are 
not consistent with respect to abundance on recently clear-cut sites. 
Bury and Corn (1988) reported plethodontid salamanders to be absent in 
their two clear-cut sites, but their results were equivocal because 
detection rates of plethodontid salamanders were very low in all of the 
habitats studied. In contrast to the above studies, Corn and Bury 
(1991) found abundance of western red-backed salamanders was not 
significantly different between clear-cut areas less than 10 years old 
and old-growth forest.
    To our knowledge, few studies exist in the peer-reviewed literature 
comparing the demographics of plethodontid salamander populations in 
clear-cut areas and adjacent forest. Grialou et al. (2000) studied the 
abundance and demographics of salamanders, including two plethodontid 
species, in mesic forests in southwestern Washington. In the year 
following clear-cut harvesting, body sizes of western red-backed 
salamanders were smaller (subadults and juveniles), but attained normal 
size distribution by the second-year post harvest. Gravid females were 
captured on clear-cut plots before and after harvest. Knapp et al. 
(2003) used a randomized, replicated design to quantify plethodontid 
salamander populations on harvested timberlands of the Appalachian 
Mountains in Virginia and West Virginia. While salamander abundance was 
less on clear-cut areas versus

[[Page 23890]]

control areas, there were no differences between cut and uncut 
treatments in the proportion of gravid females or in the average number 
of eggs in gravid females. Moreover, there were no differences between 
cut and uncut treatments in the proportion of the sample that was 
juvenile, except in one plethodontid species, which had a higher 
proportion of juveniles in uncut treatments.
    Because most of the aforementioned studies have been conducted on 
other plethodontid species in mesic environments, the Service believes 
that our evaluation should focus primarily on information collected 
from Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar salamander 
populations. The petition claims that a study of habitat associations 
of Siskiyou Mountains salamander by Ollivier et al. (2001) demonstrates 
that the species is threatened by logging. Ollivier et al. (2001) 
conducted presence/absence surveys for salamanders at 239 random 
locations within the range of Siskiyou Mountains salamander (some 
samples were within the range of the Scott Bar salamander), and 
concluded that the species was strongly associated with characteristics 
of mature forests such as closed canopies, large tree diameters, and a 
mossy ground cover layer. Based on this conclusion, the petition infers 
that removal of forest cover would result in habitat conditions 
unsuitable for the salamanders. While the study design employed by 
Ollivier et al. (2001) did not compare salamander abundance pre- and 
post-harvest, their sample contained 42 precanopy plots (0-to-30-year-
old clearcuts). Subsequent to the study by Ollivier et al. (2001), 
State and private biologists conducted numerous surveys and detected 
Siskiyou Mountains salamanders and Scott Bar salamanders in previously 
logged sites (Farber et al. 2001; CDFG 2005). These surveys followed no 
sampling design and cannot be used to infer a lack of impacts caused by 
logging; however, they do demonstrate that salamander populations 
persist at sites that have been logged.
    After reviewing data collected by Ollivier et al. (2001) and 
sampling results obtained by the California Department of Fish and Game 
(CDFG), H. Welsh and D. Ashton (in litt. 2004) concluded that the 
viability of Siskiyou Mountains salamander populations is compromised 
following clear-cutting. They based this conclusion on the high 
proportion (64 percent) of juvenile and subadult animals in the sample 
obtained by CDFG in non-forested habitats, and speculated that this was 
an indication of a 'sink' population of dispersing individuals and low 
levels of reproduction. Without further research, the effects of forest 
canopy removal on the abundance and demographics of Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander and Scott Bar salamander populations following logging will 
remain poorly understood. Two studies examining this question are 
currently in progress: One involving the Service, the Redwood Sciences 
Laboratory, and Humboldt State University, and one being conducted by 
Timber Products Company.
    The petition also states that gaps created in the species' range by 
logging could compromise the species' viability. The petition claims 
that the biology of the species, narrow habitat niche, naturally 
fragmented habitat, and patchy distribution limit the species' ability 
to recover from disturbances. The petition cites Blaustein et al. 
(1995) to support their claim that when local populations of Siskiyou 
Mountains salamander are extirpated, there is little chance that the 
habitat will be recolonized. The biology of the Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander and the Scott Bar salamander may limit their ability to 
recolonize vacant sites; however, neither the petition, nor our files, 
provide information supporting the premise that logging creates gaps in 
plethodontid salamander distribution by extirpating species from a 
    The petition also states that other actions, including tractor 
yarding, road construction, mining, and recreational development, have 
resulted in, and will continue to result in, degradation, loss, or 
fragmentation of Siskiyou Mountains salamander habitat. The petition 
cites Welsh and Ollivier (1995) as suggesting that tractor yarding may 
impact Siskiyou Mountains salamander habitat by compacting, breaking, 
or realigning talus. Although it is reasonable to conclude that tractor 
yarding may disturb talus substrates, field studies have not 
demonstrated how this impacts salamander populations. The petition also 
cites deMaynadier and Hunter (2000) as indicating that plethodontid 
salamanders are sensitive to population fragmentation by logging roads. 
Results of that study suggest that logging roads may significantly 
inhibit movement and local abundance of plethodontid salamanders. 
Additional information in our files (Marsh et al. 2005) suggests that 
forest roads act as partial barriers to salamander movement. Road 
densities within much of the ranges of the Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander and Scott Bar salamander are documented to be high (USDA 
1999); and may act to reduce dispersal and increase the degree of 
isolation among salamander populations. This in turn may lead to 
reduced gene flow and reduced long-term persistence of small, isolated 
populations (Marsh et al. 2005). The extent to which this factor may be 
influencing populations of Siskiyou Mountains salamanders and Scott Bar 
salamanders is currently unknown.
    Although the amount of habitat impacted by logging could not be 
quantified, the petition contends that substantial habitat loss has 
likely occurred. To support this claim, the petition cites the USDA, 
USDI Species Review Panel (2001), which stated that ``cumulative 
effects from past timber harvest have impacted populations on Federal 
lands'' and ``from 1980 to 1990, 10 percent of habitat on the Applegate 
Ranger District was clearcut.'' However, the rate and extent of timber 
harvest has declined dramatically on Federal lands within the Northwest 
Forest Plan area during the past 30 years (USDA, USDI 2005), 
particularly on the Klamath National Forest, which comprises roughly 50 
percent of the Siskiyou Mountain salamander's range and 80 percent of 
the Scott Bar salamander's range. (USDA 2006). During the six-year 
period from 2000 to 2005, the Klamath National Forest sold and removed 
an average of 15.9 million board feet of timber annually; compared with 
187.8 million board feet/year during 1985 to 1990 (inclusive), and 
238.2 million board feet/year from 1979 to 1984 (USDA 2006). The 
declining trend in timber harvest reduces the likelihood that a high 
proportion of the salamanders' populations will be impacted by logging.
    Additional information in our files suggests that extensive logging 
has occurred and is likely to continue on private lands, which comprise 
10 percent and 18 percent of the ranges of Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander and Scott Bar salamander, respectively. For example, Timber 
Products Company has informed the Service of its intent to clear-cut 
harvest at several occupied Scott Bar salamander sites in 2006 as part 
of a study of the species' response to timber harvest (S. Farber, pers. 
comm. 2006; S. Farber, in litt. 2006). While the Service agrees that 
timber harvesting has the potential to reduce habitat quality for the 
Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar salamander, Forest Service 
reports (USDA, USDI 2005; USDA 2006) suggest that the rate and 
magnitude of harvest on the majority of the species' ranges is not 
sufficient to cause them to be threatened or endangered in the 
foreseeable future.
    The petition claims that fire suppression has led to an increase in 
fuel loading, resulting in a change from

[[Page 23891]]

low-to high-intensity fire regimes in many forest stands within the 
ranges of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar salamander, 
and that the risk of stand-replacing fire has increased due to forest 
management practices which remove the largest, most fire resistant 
trees and create young, highly combustible plantations. The petition 
claims that although the response of these salamanders to fire has not 
been well studied, fire has the potential to impact populations by 
removing or reducing forest canopy cover. Published studies (Taylor and 
Skinner 1998; Agee 1993) and Forest Service reports (USDA 1999) clearly 
document that increased fuel loading and forest stand density have 
increased the potential for high-intensity wildfire events within the 
range of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar salamander. 
These high-intensity fires were much less frequent in the historical 
fire regime with which these salamanders evolved. High-intensity 
wildfire events, by definition, remove or significantly reduce forest 
cover; consume moss, duff, and forest litter; and may sterilize surface 
soil layers. The impacts of such events on salamander habitat and 
populations are likely more severe than those of clear-cutting, but 
have not been directly evaluated. Recent large fires within the Klamath 
Province, combined with fire behavior modeling conducted by the Forest 
Service, suggest a high probability of moderate- to high-intensity 
wildfires within the range of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and 
Scott Bar salamander. However, fire modeling also suggests that the 
level of tree mortality would be highly variable within the range of 
these species (USDA 1999), resulting in a mosaic pattern of habitat 
effects. Additionally, the extent to which high-intensity fire effects 
would occur within habitats occupied by these salamanders is currently 
    To summarize Factor A, logging, wildfire and other habitat 
disturbances may impact local abundance and viability of Siskiyou 
Mountains salamanders and Scott Bar salamanders by altering the 
microclimate within stands that support these species, fragmenting 
habitat, or otherwise reducing habitat quality. Although extensive 
logging has occurred in Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar 
salamander habitat for over one hundred years, the extent of habitat 
loss has not been quantified. Increased potential for stand-replacing 
wildfire also places more of the species' habitat at risk. Information 
in our files (e.g., Farber et al. 2001; CDFG 2005) indicates that both 
Siskiyou Mountains salamanders and Scott Bar salamanders occur to some 
extent in clear-cuts, second-growth stands, burned areas, and naturally 
open habitats, and the demography of populations subjected to timber 
harvest or fire is poorly known. This evidence suggests that while 
timber harvest and wildfire may reduce habitat quality for Siskiyou 
Mountains salamanders and Scott Bar salamanders, they do not result in 
the extirpation of populations. Moreover, the rate and extent of timber 
harvest has declined dramatically on Federal lands within the Northwest 
Forest Plan area, particularly the salamanders' ranges on the Klamath 
National Forest, during the past 30 years (USDA, USDI 2005; USDA 2006). 
Based on current Forest Service policies, we anticipate that the rate 
of timber harvest will remain at roughly present levels in the 
foreseeable future. Although it is reasonable to assume that high-
intensity wildfire may have a negative impact on salamander habitat and 
populations, we currently have no information and the petition provided 
no information to support a determination that fire is a substantial 
risk. We therefore find that the petition and other information in our 
files do not present substantial information that the continued 
existence of these species are threatened by the present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of the species' habitat or 
range in the foreseeable future.

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

    The petition and our files did not provide any information 
pertaining to Factor B. Information in our files indicates that tissue 
samples have been, and will likely continue to be, collected from 
individual salamanders in the field. However, methods used to collect 
genetic material for analysis are not expected to cause harm to the 

C. Disease or Predation

    Neither the petition nor information in our files present any 
information pertaining to Factor C.

D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Federal lands: The petition cites the USDA, USDI Species Review 
Panel (2001) to demonstrate that approximately 80 percent of the 
Siskiyou Mountains salamanders' range occurs on Federal lands managed 
by the Rogue-Siskiyou and Klamath National Forests and the Medford 
District of the Bureau of Land Management. Thirty-nine percent of the 
species' range occurs within protected land designations under the 
Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) (USDA, USDI Species Review Panel 2001). 
Additionally, the petition cites Clayton et al. (2002 as cited in USDA, 
USDI 2004) to demonstrate that less than 10 percent of suspected high-
quality habitat occurs in reserves. The petition thus concludes that 
the majority of the species' ranges and high-quality habitat occurs on 
Federal lands available for timber harvest and other activities. The 
petition cites the USDA, USDI Species Review Panel (2001) to suggest 
that specific protections on non-reserve land allocations will likely 
be required to ensure persistence of the species.
    The petition claims that the Siskiyou Mountains salamander formerly 
received substantial protection on Federal lands from the Survey and 
Manage Program (USDA, USDI 1994). The petition claims that this program 
was abolished with the Record of Decision entitled ``To Remove or 
Modify the Survey and Manage Mitigation Measures Standards and 
Guidelines in Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Planning 
Documents Within the Range of the Northern Spotted Owl'' in March 2004 
(March 2004 ROD). The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement 
for the March 2004 ROD addressed potential mitigation, including 
sensitive species programs, for species affected by the removal of the 
Survey and Manage Program. However, the petition claims that the 
sensitive species programs provide substantially less protection by 
failing to require surveys and making mitigation optional. The petition 
cites a USDA, USDI (2004) statement that the elimination of the Survey 
and Manage Program may result in gaps in the Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander's range.
    According to the petition, in the absence of the Survey and Manage 
Program, management of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander would be 
governed under/by the standards and guidelines of the NWFP. According 
to the petition, 78 percent of the known sites north of the Siskiyou 
Crest occur in the Applegate AMA. Under the NWFP, AMAs were created to 
``encourage the development and testing of technical and social 
approaches to achieving desired ecological, economic, and other social 
objectives,'' with each AMA having a management plan (USDA, USDI 1994). 
Because an agency plan for the Applegate AMA has not been produced, and 
standards and guidelines for activities in AMAs are more flexible than 
in other land-use allocations, the petition claims that

[[Page 23892]]

existing guidelines for the Siskiyou Mountains salamander in the 
Applegate AMA would result in limited protection for the species. 
However, the petitioners provided no documentation to suggest that 
Federal actions in the AMA are having an effect on the salamanders.
    The status of the Survey and Manage program is in flux. In January 
2006, the United States District Court, Western District of Washington 
in Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, et al., v. Mark E. Rey, et al., Case 
2:04-CV-00844-MJP, ordered the March 2004 ROD set aside for failure to 
comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. With this, the court 
reinstated the 2001 Survey and Manage ROD as it stood on March 2004. 
The Survey and Manage Program is therefore the current regulatory 
mechanism in place for the United States Forest Service and Bureau of 
Land Management lands that the Siskiyou Mountains salamander occupies. 
Under these provisions, all currently known and future sites south of 
the Siskiyou Crest will be managed to maintain species persistence and 
surveys will be conducted prior to habitat-disturbing activities. North 
of the Siskiyou Crest, high-priority sites will be identified and 
managed to provide a reasonable assurance of species persistence.
    The Scott Bar salamander is not specifically addressed by name in 
the Survey and Manage ROD protections. However, the Klamath National 
Forest has formally stated that Survey and Manage protections for 
Siskiyou Mountains salamander also extend to the Scott Bar salamander, 
since they cannot be easily distinguished in the field (M. Boland, in 
litt. 2006). Thus, protections for the Scott Bar salamander on Federal 
lands are in place.
    According to the court's order, the defendants indicated that they 
plan to propose a supplement to the 2004 Final Supplemental 
Environmental Impact Statement to address the deficiencies identified 
by the court, followed by a new ROD on or before March 30, 2007. It is 
unknown what protections will be provided the Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander in future decisions. If existing Federal regulations are 
modified in the future, the adequacy of these regulations to protect 
the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar salamander should be 
evaluated at that time.
    State Regulations:
    The State of Oregon provides no regulatory protections for the 
Siskiyou Mountains salamander on private lands (approximately 10 
percent of the species' range). In California, the Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander is listed as a threatened species and receives substantial 
protection pursuant to the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). 
These protections include pre-project surveys and prohibitions on 
timber harvest in established buffers around suitable habitat. In 2005, 
CDFG submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission to 
delist the Siskiyou Mountains salamander. Because of CDFG's delisting 
proposal, the petitioners claim that the protections provided by CESA 
should not be considered to provide firm regulatory protection for the 
species. The final determination on whether to delist the Siskiyou 
Mountains salamander is expected to be made at the Fish and Game 
Commission's January 31, 2007 meeting. If existing State regulations 
are modified in the future, the adequacy of these regulations to 
protect the Siskiyou Mountains salamander should be evaluated at that 
time. Unless and until the Siskiyou Mountains salamander is delisted as 
a threatened species, it remains protected pursuant to the CESA.
    In July 2005, the Scott Bar salamander appeared on the CDFG's 
Special Animals List (CDFG 2006). The CDFG describes the Scott Bar 
salamander as a ``newly discovered species from what was part of the 
range of Plethodon stormi.'' Currently, the Scott Bar salamander does 
not have any special management status (rare, threatened, or endangered 
species; fully protected species; or species of special concern) in 
California, and thus receives no special management considerations or 
additional protections on approximately 18 percent of its range.
    Adequate regulatory mechanisms are lacking on approximately 10 
percent of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander's range and 18 percent of 
the Scott Bar salamander's range. However, research suggests that 
populations of plethodontid salamanders persist following timber 
harvest. Therefore, the Service believes that the lack of regulatory 
protections on a limited proportion of the species' ranges does not 
likely pose a threat to the species in the foreseeable future.
    To summarize Factor D, existing Federal regulations currently 
provide substantial protection for the Siskiyou Mountains salamander 
and Scott Bar salamander through the Survey and Manage program. Thus, 
the fact that significant portions of the Siskiyou Mountains salamander 
and Scott Bar salamander ranges include Federal lands available for 
timber harvest (Matrix and AMA) does not in itself constitute a threat 
to the species.
    Current California regulations provide substantial protection for 
the Siskiyou Mountains salamander on private lands. Existing California 
regulations provide no special management protections for the Scott Bar 
salamander on private lands. Likewise, Oregon provides no regulatory 
protections for Siskiyou Mountains salamanders on private lands. 
However, private lands comprise only 18 percent of the Scott Bar 
salamanders' range and only 10 percent of the Siskiyou Mountains 
salamanders' range in Oregon. Thus, substantial protections are 
provided to both species across the majority of their ranges. Although 
the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have indicated they 
plan to develop a supplement to their March 2004 ROD addressing 
deficiencies in that document identified by the court, and the State of 
California is currently evaluating a petition to delist the Siskiyou 
Mountains salamander, no decisions regarding these actions have yet 
been reached that would effect existing regulatory mechanisms. Thus, 
the Service considers the current Federal and State regulations 
adequate for both salamander species. If these regulations are modified 
in the future, the adequacy of these regulations to protect the 
Siskiyou Mountains salamander and the Scott Bar salamander should be 
evaluated at that time.
    Because Federal and State of California regulations are currently 
in effect and offer protection for the Siskiyou Mountains salamander 
and Scott Bar salamander over the majority of the species' ranges, the 
petition and other information in our files does not present 
substantial information that these species are threatened at this time 
by the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms across all or a 
significant portion of their ranges.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting the Species' Continued 

    The petition states that ``an increasing consensus has developed 
that we are and will continue to experience global warming.'' The 
petition cites Feder (1983) and Ollivier et al. (2001) to propose that 
the unique physiology and requirement of moist conditions for foraging 
and breeding activity make the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott 
Bar salamander particularly sensitive to variations in climate. Thus, 
the petition suggests that the expected change in climate over time is 
likely to influence the species distribution and ability to find 
suitable habitat. The petition also claims that warmer temperatures may 
shorten the window

[[Page 23893]]

in which the species is able to forage and reproduce. According to the 
petition, warmer temperatures may also negatively affect habitat by 
increasing the severity and intensity of forest fires, resulting in 
loss of forest canopy. While providing information on climate change 
the petition did not provide information beyond speculation regarding 
the effects of microhabitat changes that may be brought about by 
regional climate change.
    The petition also cites USDA, USDI (2004) to demonstrate that, due 
to limited habitat and the known existence of only three localities, 
the Scott Bar salamander is at risk of extinction due to genetic or 
demographic stochasticity, regardless of management direction. However, 
information in our files suggests that the number of known localities 
and existing habitat within the range of the Scott Bar salamander is 
considerably larger than that considered in USDA, USDI (2004). The 
existence of 37 currently known sites decreases the potential for 
extinction caused by stochastic events, although the species' range is 
still considered small and restricted. Stochastic events pose less of a 
threat to the Siskiyou Mountains salamander due to the greater number 
of known localities and relatively larger range.
    To summarize factor E, because foraging and breeding activities are 
dependent upon cool, moist conditions, these salamanders may be 
susceptible to alterations in microclimate resulting from projected 
climate change. However, neither the petition nor other information in 
our files provides anything more than speculation on the type, 
magnitude, or temporal effects of microhabitat changes that may be 
brought about by regional climate change. Finally, the petitioners 
assert that the Scott Bar salamander is at risk because its small, 
restricted range makes this species vulnerable to extinction as a 
result of stochastic events. Although the range of the Scott Bar 
salamander is considered restricted, the number of currently known 
populations is considerably greater than stated in the petition. 
Additionally, a considerable amount of suitable habitat capable of 
supporting the Scott Bar salamander has yet to be surveyed. Thus, the 
Service believes that the Scott Bar salamander may be less susceptible 
to stochastic events than the petition claims. Therefore, we find that 
the petition does not contain substantial information suggesting that 
other natural or manmade factors may be a factor that threatens either 


    We evaluated each of the five listing factors individually, and 
because the threats to the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar 
salamander are not mutually exclusive, we also evaluated the collective 
effect of these threats. The petition focused primarily on two listing 
factors: the Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of the Species' Habitat or Range and the Inadequacy of 
Existing Regulatory Mechanisms. More specifically, the petition and 
information in our files suggest that logging and fire pose the most 
likely threats to Siskiyou Mountains salamander and Scott Bar 
salamander habitat and populations, because the majority of the 
species' ranges occur on lands available for timber harvest or lands 
susceptible to stand-replacing wildfires. Synergistically, timber 
harvest and fire have the potential to impact extensive amounts of 
habitat and a large number of discrete populations. The Siskiyou 
Mountains salamander's numerous distinct localities and occurrence both 
north and south of the Siskiyou Crest likely increase the resilience of 
this species to logging and wildfire. Additionally, current Federal and 
State of California regulations provide substantial protection for the 
Siskiyou Mountains salamander on both Federal and private lands. 
Therefore, the Service believes that the Siskiyou Mountains 
salamander's numerous localities and existing Federal and State of 
California regulations ameliorate, to some degree, the potential 
synergistic effects to this species.
    Synergistic effects are of greater concern for the Scott Bar 
salamander. This species has a restricted range and substantially fewer 
known localities. Information in our files also indicates that portions 
of the species' range are at high risk of fire (USDA 1999), and 
clearcut harvesting is scheduled to occur at known sites. However, 
plethodontid salamander populations have been shown to persist where 
logging occurs and the Survey and Manage protections currently afforded 
this species on the majority (82 percent) of its range act to minimize 
the risk of habitat loss due to timber harvest. Additionally, fire 
effects analysis within the range of the Scott Bar salamander indicate 
that if a wildfire were to occur, the area would have mixed levels of 
stand mortality, resulting in a mosaic pattern of habitat effects (USDA 
1999). Therefore, the Service finds that the synergistic effects of 
fire and logging do not threaten the continued existence of the Scott 
Bar salamander in the foreseeable future.
    We have reviewed the petition and other information available in 
our files. Based on this review, we find that the petition and 
information in our files do not present substantial information 
suggesting that listing the Siskiyou Mountains salamander or Scott Bar 
salamander as threatened or endangered may be warranted at this time.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available, upon 
request, from the Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES 


    The primary authors of this notice are staff of Yreka Fish and 
Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1829 S. Oregon Street, 
Yreka, California 96097.


    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: April 17, 2006.
Kenneth Stansell,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
 [FR Doc. E6-5977 Filed 4-24-06; 8:45 am]