The Ongoing Spotted Frog Debate
March 22, 2016, by EBD Hydro
Researchers from the Center for Biological Diversity approached the members of the Deschutes River Conservancy Project in the hopes of promoting water conservation strategies to protect Oregon's endangered, spotted frog. And, what some believed was turning out to be a positive move toward improved water conservation efforts unexpectedly came to an abrupt halt.
The Spotted Frog was added to the threatened species list under the Endangered Species Act in August, 2014, by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. After a first round of debates failed to produce the immediate results that the Center for Biological Diversity was hoping for, a second lawsuit was filed on January 11, 2015, by the Water Watch of Oregon, in federal court. The lawsuit named the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Central Oregon Irrigation District, the North Unit Irrigation District, and the Tumalo Irrigation District.
While the efforts of the Water Watch of Oregon and the Center for Biological Diversity appeared, on the surface, to be supportive of the cause to protect the Spotted Frog, their demands were epically detrimental to the community in many other ways. The effects on local farmers due to a lack of irrigation would have a global impact. Jefferson County ranks number 24 out of 584 U.S. counties that produce field and grass seed crops that are sold world-wide. The loss of water to the local farmlands would results in economic, and even enfironmental, consequences for the depressed communities in Central Oregon.
Since 2008, around $5.3 million dollars has been spent by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, irrigation districts, and local governments on conservation measures. One of these measures included a plan to improve the habitat for the spotted frog. However, during the second round of debates, the representatives from Water Watch of Oregon simply got up and left the table. While Water Watch of Oregon says that the talks were not moving fast enough or in the direction they wanted, the remaining parties at the table were left confused.
Shortly thereafter, the second lawsuit had been filed. On March 22, 2016, in Eugene Oregon, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken denied the injunction. The parties were ordered to return to discussions on water conservation.
As an endangered species and as part of EBD's environmentally conscious philosophy, EBD has followed this story very closely, offering to support all water conservation efforts possible to help in the protection of the Spotted Frog. The injunction, although designed to protect the Spotted Frog, offered no solutions or justifications in alteration of seasonal canal flows that would support such an action. The federal courts have ordered the irrigation districts and all parties involved to return to the table to continue water conservation talks in an effort to support the Spotted Frog. EBD's will strive to continue its energy development and water conservation efforts in the hopes to help with the USBR's Deschute's Project water conservation program.