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Rock climbers' haven in Angeles National Forest to remain closed in effort to protect endangered frog

December 29, 2009 |  4:09 pm

Officials announced last week that a previously closed parcel of about 1,000 acres of land in the Angeles National Forest will remain closed for another year to protect the critically endangered mountain yellow-legged frog. Our colleague Raja Abdulrahim has the details; here's an excerpt:

Yellow-legged frogDamage to the forest from the Station fire, which has increased the risk of mudslides, has made that area an even more crucial habitat for the frog, authorities said.

About 1,000 acres north of Angeles Crest Highway, including Williamson Rock, were closed in 2005 because of the presence of the endangered mountain yellow-legged frog. The area included a portion of the Pacific Coast Trail, which had to be rerouted.

Officials had hoped to open the area soon, but U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Bob Blount said those plans were dashed by the Station fire.

Now that other parts of the forest are in danger of mudslides, the area around Williamson Rock could become one of the few viable habitats for the frog, which is native to parts of California and Nevada, he said.

"Williamson Rock is a wonderful rock-climbing opportunity, and as a district ranger nothing would please me more than to get one of the jewels of the forest open again," Blount said. "Unfortunately, because of the confluence of the issues, that's simply not possible."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has relocated some frogs out of the area, and officials hope to repopulate other sites in the spring, Blount said. Several agencies will review the process as officials try to balance the desire for access with the need to protect the amphibians, he said.


Photo: A mountain yellow-legged frog in the San Gabriel Mountains. Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

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