Amphibian could sink Shasta project
SHASTA LAKE, CALIF.
A trio of salamander species in Northern California could complicate a $1.4 billion public works project to heighten the Shasta Dam, the state’s largest reservoir.
The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that two environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit last month asking a judge to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether Shasta salamanders should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
One of the groups, the Center for Biological Diversity, asked the wildlife service in 2012 to declare the salamanders endangered or threatened, but the agency has not made a decision, said Jenny Loda, an attorney for the group.
Environmentalists say the project would destroy the amphibians’ habitat and put them at risk.
The lawsuit was prompted in part by the federal government’s sudden momentum in efforts to raise the Shasta Dam nearly two stories.
The California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, passed in 1972, prohibits the 602foot structure from getting any taller. But the Trump administration is moving forward with the plan.
Congress approved $20 million to jump start the heightening project.