Editorial: Expect ripples from the Oregon spotted frog

Published Sep 2, 2014 at 12:14AM

The announcement that the Oregon spotted frog is listed as threatened was greeted as not such a big deal by a local researcher and a Deschutes County planner.

The researcher and planner pointed out that the frogs live in wetlands, and wetlands already have a high level of protection. Not much development is expected in such areas.

We don’t think the impact of the listing will be so minimal. We’d like to think that will be the case. We are not confident it will be.

If everybody believed wetlands protections were so great, there wouldn’t be a need to list the frog.

Many groups take species protection very seriously. They believe there has been unchecked habitat destruction that has led to a human-caused extinction crisis. Many of them believe that climate change will make things worse. They can be expected to sharpen their legal briefs and fight vigorously any change, current practice or proposal that is not, in their view, an improvement.

We don’t expect them to just trust that protections already in place on wetlands are enough to protect the spotted frog. We expect that they will be suspicious of proposed protection agreements, such as the one between the Old Mill District and the Fish and Wildlife Service, that seek to find a reasonable balance between species protection and development.

The frog could become a very important issue in the future of Mirror Pond and of any other changes along the river. The fact is that lawsuits tend to be the drivers when the Endangered Species Act is involved.

We hope the spotted frog will thrive. And we hope the efforts to ensure that happens won’t lead to expensive, bruising legal fights and unreasonable curtailments of development.