As I sat on Iron Mountain, gazing at the Sierra crest and southeast toward Mt.Whitney, I was overcome with inexpressible emotions. My mental focus was overpowering acute as I sat analyzing the comments by representatives of Defend Rural America who were guest speakers at the Oakhurst/Coarsegold Tea Party meeting Aug. 20.
The question foremost in my mind as I sat on Iron Mountain was: How many more wilderness experiences are left before the proposal by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate nearly two million acres in the Sierra as critical habitat to protect frogs and toads, virtually closing these area to public use?
I have known about the proposal to list the Mountain Yellow-legged frog and the Yosemite toad since May 10, 2013, when my friend, a member of The Stewards of the Sierra National Forest, E-mailed me the links to the Federal Register wherein is the USFWS announcement.
Subsequently, Congressman McClintock's office announced he is taking up the issue, and indeed, held a Congressional Field Hearing to a rousing Tuolumne County audience approximately 400 to 500 strong in Sonora on Aug. 6. These hearty mountain residents want access to their National Forest. Go here to read the testimony taken by Congressman McClintock: defendruralamerica.com/DRA/frogstoads.html. Scroll down on the right.
Fourteen counties are effected in nine forests, including our Sierra National Forest. The counties are Alpine, Amador, El Dorado, Fresno, Inyo, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sierra, Tulare, and Tuolumne. The National Forests are Eldorado, Humboldt-Toiyabe, Inyo, Plumas, Sequoia, Sierra, Stanislaus, Tahoe, and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.
This plan will place severe restrictions on human activities such as cattle grazing, dams, water diversions, logging, fire management, mining, travel, sport fishing, hiking, camping, rafting, and more in all the forests.
This day on Iron Mountain I can see down along Shuteye Ridge, to the site of the recent Aspen fire beyond Shuteye, to the forest land east of Shuteye, to the Clark Range and its extension where lie the lovely Chain Lakes, and beyond to the Sierra Crest. The clarity of my vision matches the clarity of my realization that the USFWS plan overreaches when it determines critical habitat.
My years as an educator teaching students to think tells me that if I overreach in disciplining my students they will think about my actions and rebel, creating an unworkable classroom permeated with bad feelings.
Critical habitat is a concept I taught my students. They would understand the need for the frogs and toads is for a healthy water environment. Any lethal presence in the water will end the presence of the frogs and toads. But, it's not children's presence on a camp out with their parents that is lethal. The science is clear that the harm to the frogs and toads, and indeed to the amphibians world wide is the Chytrid fungus "which seems to attack only amphibians, causes a thickening of the infected amphibian's skin, preventing the animal from breathing properly and interfering with its electrolyte balance. The infection can eventually lead to cardiac arrest, although some frog species are better able to cope with it than others. Chytrid is also largely responsible for endangering California's mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa)."
No matter how many generations of my students are prevented from accessing the lakes where the frogs and toads live, these amphibians will only be saved when they become immune to the fungus. Already, there is progress in developing an antidote.
Another other lethal factor in the water is non-native fish that prey upon the eggs, tadpoles, and adults. The appropriate agencies are already implementing a plan to kill the fish and discontinue planting. I'm thinking of the devastating effect that will have on everyone who loves to fish.
Liberty and freedom require vigilance to check governmental overreach. The Drakes Bay Oyster Farm is in the process of being shoved out of business by fake science, despite the protest of Senator Feinstein and other prominent politicians. youtube.com/watch?v=b7NiX5Qr024.
I urge everyone to speak out against this proposal by writing to: Jan Knight, U.S. Fish and wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage Way, room W-2605, Sacramento, Calif. 95825.