Am­phib­ian could sink Shasta pro­ject

The Tribune (SLO) - - Local -

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.

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