Beware of the Dreaded Yellow Legged Frog
written by Laramie:
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Tucked away high in the San Bernardino mountains 90 minutes east of Los Angeles lies the quaint little village of Running Springs, home to some 6000 hardy souls that brave a winter temperature averaging twenty nine degrees with lots of snow and rain. The summers, though, offer relief hovering around a balmy sixty degrees. The communities of Snow Valley, Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake are just a few minutes away by narrow, winding mountain roads. From the main street of the village, during the winter months, weekend snow lovers can be seen, bumper to bumper, single file, up the adjacent roadway heading to the nearby ski resorts. And during the summer months, tourists looking for relief from the smoggy, hot days of the big cities, line the mountain road in search of the many turnouts that offer views of the valley below that take your breath away. And when the weather is good, you can find local chili cook offs, parades, and Mountain Days celebrations offering food and game booths up and down the streets in town.
A few months ago the rains came. The main road up from the desert floor washed out in several places and cars were detoured onto a distant route that meant an extra hourís drive and even more traffic to deal with on the way to the mountain resorts. The amount of time needed to safely rebuild the route to Running Springs as quickly as possible was estimated at one year. This was not good news to the residents, as many of them commuted to work and had to drive down the damaged road, and the stores in town would lose valuable revenue from vacationers. The outlook was bleak indeed. But the bad news got worse.
A federally listed endangered species was discovered in the path of the construction project planned to repair the roadway. And the mitigation required to proceed on the project would cost in the neighborhood of $1.5 million. What was found in the way? A yellow legged frog.
A "rana muscosa", or mountain yellow legged frog, measures from 2 to 3 inches in length, has a red or yellow belly and hind legs, and when handled smells like garlic. Latest estimates put the total North American population of the frog at around 700 - 800 and it keeps going down. Now, I don't know if this creature is in the same class as the yellow bellied sap sucker or the 2 toed sloth or even the dodo bird, and maybe I'm missing something here, but a 2 inch frog? Yes, I know we should all be environmentally correct, but to spend $1.5 million just on the process of asking Uncle Sam if it's legal to repair the road over the habitat, and then possibly 100 times that or more if the route up the mountain has to be resurveyed and a completely different route up the mountain found and a new road built? Consider the time that would take! Commuters and businesses and vacationers depend on that road getting repaired ASAP! Maybe some environmentalists could think a little more about giving the people on this planet a little slack when considering who has priority on some issues. After all, right or wrong, we live here too. In this case, the repair of the road should begin without delay.
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