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Protection For Arroyo Toad Includes Southeast San Diego County

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Friday proposed just over 109,000 acres of protected critical habitat for the endangered Arroyo toad in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties.

The re-proposal comes in response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity.

"Once a common species in Southern California, the Arroyo toad has lost 75 percent of its historic range and needs all of the protected habitat it can get if it is going to survive," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director with the Center for Biological Diversity.

He called the proposal a 'hop in the right direction.'"

Greenwald said this is the third critical habitat designation for the toad since its listing as endangered in 1994.

The Fish and Wildlife Service proposed designation of 478,400 acres of critical habitat in June 2000, which was pared down to 182,360 acres in January 2001.

Greenwald says Friday's proposed designation restores many of the acres removed during the Bush administration.

"The Bush administration did its utmost to ensure that endangered species like the Arroyo toad received as little protection as possible," said Greenwald.

The areas proposed in southeastern San Diego County as protected habitat for the Arroyo toad includes land near I-8, Highway 94 and Pine Valley.

The proposed Sunrise Powerlink electrical transmission line project and the newly-proposed Tule Wind Power project are within or near habitat for the Arroyo toad and the Peninsular bighorn sheep.

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