Better Red Than Dead
A federal judge last week lifted development restrictions on more than 4 million acres of land that had been designated as critical habitat for the threatened California red-legged frog. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service imposed the restrictions in early 2001, but developers quickly sued to overturn them. To the dismay of environmentalists, the court ruling last week gave formal approval to a settlement reached between the SUFIS and the developers. Under the agreement, protections for the frog will be removed while the feds draw up a new habitat plan. The territory of the once-pervasive frog, which inspired Mark Twain’s story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” has shrunk by 70 percent.