Posted: Nov 9, 2010 6:36 PM by Ariel Wesler
Updated: Nov 9, 2010 8:48 PM
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has reached a deal with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore a pond in Lompoc. It's all to protect an endangered species.
The California Tiger Salamander has been on the federal endangered species list since 2000. In 2004, the county inadvertently killed the creature during a construction project off Foster Road in Santa Maria. U.S. Fish and Wildlife recently took legal action against the county to solve the situation.
When that California Tiger Salamander was accidentally, the incident violated the federal Endangered Species Act. The U.S Fish and Wildlife demanded the county take action. As part of the settlement, the county agreed to spend $400,000 in taxpayer money to restore a pond in Lompoc--protecting the salamander and its habitat.
"I felt that the one option that was presented to us was the superior option, which would not have cost the county the $400,000," said Board Chair Janet Wolf, the only supervisor to vote against the resolution.
But not spending the money would have shifted the problem to private landowners working near the California Tiger Salamander.
"Either we do this for the public good, or we mandate not only that county government, but every private owner do major major studies into the hundreds of thousands of dollars that could equal millions of dollars to be able to get basic permits to do their operations in agriculture," said Supervisor Salud Carbajal.
The animal lives in ponds and wetlands throughout Santa Barbara County. Experts consider each area unique, but some say the restrictions surrounding the amphibian go a bit too far.
"If I were to take a salamander from one end of Santa Barbara County and put it in a pool on the other end, I'd be guilty of a felony, said Andy Caldwell, a community activist.
"We have to balance our right and interest in work and in business and in operations with the right to protect the habitat of these important animals as well," Carbajal said.
Now the situation has been resolved, the county still must follow the laws in the Endangered Species Act, but says obtaining permits in the range of the endangered animal should be a little easier.
Experts say the California Tiger Salamander can also be found in Sonoma County, the Bay area, the Central Valley, and the Southern San Joaquin Valley.
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