In a split decision, the federal government plans to designate more than 10,000 acres in Arizona and New Mexico as prime habitat for the threatened Chiricahua leopard frog, but will not include lands surrounding a proposed copper mine.
Opponents of the Rosemont Mine site in the Santa Ritas Mountains southeast of Tucson had requested last year that land surrounding the area be declared off limits by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the frog habitat, which has been reduced by 80 percent in recent years.
Mary Richardson, a wildlife service supervisory biologist, said the agency determined the Rosemont site did not meet critical habitat criteria because frogs do not breed there, the Arizona Daily Star
reported on Wednesday.
Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity said overall the group was pleased the government set aside half the land it recommended as frog habitat, but was disappointed with the decision to open other acreage to development.
The split decision protects 10,000 acres from commercial development and removes a legal hurdle mine owners had to clear before beginning operation.
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