In a 3-2 vote, the California Fish and Game Commission ruled yesterday that the California tiger salamander will be protected as a threatened species under the State’s Endangered Species Act.  The Commission had previously denied the listing twice, and was ordered by the State Court of Appeals to reconsider the issue after the Center of Biological Diversity filed suit in 2004.  The Commission made the decision after finding that the species’ habitat, roughly 400,000 acres in Central California, is threatened by future development.

This decision is anticipated to affect landowners in the Central Valley including farmers and developers who will face additional restrictions on activities in areas that are occupied by or provide suitable habitat for the species. While opponents to the listing decision argue that the population counts for the species are inaccurate and projected development on rural land is exaggerated, Commission members respond that their decision is supported by the scientific community.

Three distinct population segments of the California tiger salamander were listed under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2000 (PDF), 2002 (PDF), and 2004 (PDF) by the Fish and Wildlife Service.  Its breeding and estivation habitat includes vernal pools, ponds, and upland areas in grassland and oak savannah plant communities.