Threatened Frog Delays Grazing Plan at Fossil Creek

Jul 29, 2015

The U.S. Forest Service must reexamine a plan for allowing cattle to graze near Fossil Creek on the Coconino National Forest. A court has ruled the current plan jeopardizes habitat for the threatened Chiricahua leopard frog.

Chiricahua leopard frog.
Credit Jeff Servoss/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A U.S. district court determined the grazing plan failed to consider streams, creeks and other “dispersal corridors,” which the frogs use to move between ponds.

The ruling came after a lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity. It claimed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service inaccurately reported that grazing would not harm the threatened frog. The agency must revise its assessment by October 1. Until then, the Forest Service can’t issue a grazing permit on the frog’s critical habitat near Fossil Creek.  

The Chiricahua leopard frog lives in Arizona and New Mexico. It needs permanent water sources to survive. The frog was listed as threatened in 2002 because of habitat loss, nonnative predators and disease. It was reestablished in the Fossil Creek area in 2008 through a captive breeding program.