Paul Smith’s College professor: Recently discovered toad endangered by construction project

Jul 5, 2017 | News

A Paul Smith’s College professor who helped discover a rare species of toad is urging the public to help save it from extinction.

Eric Simandle, professor of Natural Sciences, and his colleagues at the University of Nevada, Reno say a proposed geothermal project near the Dixie Valley toad’s tiny habitat could wipe it off the face of the earth.

“We are in favor of renewable energy, including geothermal, but the location of this project is not appropriate,” Simandle said. “Orni 32 is a for-profit company that stands to make a considerable amount of money from the project. Our fundamental concern is that they have not seriously considered the damage that will be caused to the environment and to the toad itself.”

The only known Dixie Valley toads on the planet live in a 1,500-acre plot of land in Churchill County, Nevada, where thermal springs bubble up, creating wetlands. The proposed geothermal project could sap those wetlands of water, potentially destroying the toads’ habitat. The construction project itself, along with the raising of powerlines, could also cause issues for the rare toad, Simandle said.

The Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Ariz., has joined the fight to save the toad, as well. The center maintains a webpage, http://bit.ly/2ureVXB, where the public can fill out a form and send a letter to the Bureau of Land Management that would halt the Dixie Meadows Geothermal Utilization Project.

Simandle and his colleagues discovered the Dixie Valley toad several years ago, and then collected and analyzed data about its uniqueness. A peer reviewed article about the discovery is slated for publication in an upcoming issue of the scientific journal Zootaxa. It is the first new toad species to be described in the United States in the last 50 years.

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