Take better care of endangered species in SoCal, judge says

A mountain yellow-legged frog
A mountain yellow-legged frog
Matthew San Diego/Flickr Creative Commons

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A federal judge has ordered three federal agencies to exercise more care toward endangered species in Southern California's national forests.

The animal species include California condors, foxes, sea lions and butterflies. Native plants are among the threatened species, too. The U.S. Forest Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will have six months to develop wide-ranging protection plans for Southern California forests.

Steelhead trout in the Cleveland and Los Padres national forests will get special attention. So will Santa Ana Suckers: the district court judge has asked for more information about the way suction dredge mining harms water quality and the tiny fish. The popular hiking areas around Williamson Rock and Little Rock Creek Road will remain closed to protect mountain yellow-legged frogs and arroyo toads, since their numbers have dwindled along with water flows and vernal pools.

The decision came out of a lawsuit the nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity brought against several federal agencies.