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Endangered Species

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Sonoma County CA Tiger Salamander
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Original Artwork by Molly Eckler www.mollyeckler.com

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TIGER SALAMANDER
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CLICK PICTURE for More Info on California Tiger Salamander

"The Sonoma County population of California tiger salamander is on the brink of extinction, with its few remaining populations isolated by urban sprawl and roads. Full protection of all suitable habitats is the salamander’s only chance for survival." Collette L. Adkins Giese, Staff Attorney for Herpetofauna, Center for Biological Diversity

TIGER SALAMANDER: The Sonoma County Distinct Population Segment of the California Tiger Salamander is genetically unique, and found nowhere else in the wolrd.  Despite this, the federal government and Califronia Fish and Game have historically resisted protecting tihs animal for forty years. 

In 2002 and again in 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the Sonoma County Distinct Population Segment of the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense),an endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  As of 2002, only seven known breeding sites of the Sonoma County population remain. At least four breeding sites have been destroyed or have suffered severe degradation. The planned casino will result in the loss of one of the seven remaining breeding sites. The impact to the remaining breeding sites will be significant, and will pose and imminent risk to the well-being of the Sonoma County Distinct Population Segment of the California tiger salamander.

 The biological assessment of the Graton Rancheria casino site undertaken by U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFW) concluded that the casino footprint site includes upland, aquatic, foraging and breeding habitat  for the California tiger salamander, that there are slamanders present on the property, and that construction activities would kill all animals on the site.

 In 2009, the Center for Biological Diversity settled its lawsuit with US Fish and Wildlife.  THe settlement resulted in 74,233 acres being proposed as Tiger Salamander critical habitat in Sonoma County.  The casino site and the adjacent land which all placed into trust in October 2010 is squarely within the proposd critical habitat area.  Despite being put on notice about this by STC101 in March 2010, the NIGC refused to follow federal law and released the Record of Decision on the FEIS without taking the critical habitat issue into consideration.  Read the letters above.

Flooded CTS traps Winter 2005
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New Station Casinos land

The picture (right) was taken in 2005 at Station Casinos new property , and shows the traps filled with water - a violation of protocol, and a death trap for a salamander. Vincent Griego at Fish & Wildlife was told of all these occurences, but refused to take any action.

Large vernal pool on site.
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SHOWY INDIAN CLOVER

SHOWY INDIAN CLOVER: The species was considered extinct until 1993, when a single plant was discovered on privately-owned property in Sonoma County. That site has since been developed and the species is no longer present. Another natural population, consisting of about 200 plants, was discovered in 1996 in Marin County on privately owned property. It now grows on the proposed casino site.

Originally, it ranged from Mendocino County south to Sonoma, Marin, Alameda and Santa Clara counties, and east to Napa and Solano counties. The species was found in a variety of habitats including low, wet swales, grasslands and grassy hillsides. It sometimes grew on serpentine soils.

SONOMA SUNSHINE
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Photo Courtesy of Grace Emery

SONOMA SUNSHINE: Found in grasslands and vernal pools. The species is restricted to Sonoma County. It is known from 35 sites in Cotati Valley and 7 other sites in Sonoma Valley. 30 percent of the historic occurrences have been eliminated or seriously damaged. Most of the remaining sites are threatened by urbanization, wastewater effluent irrigation, and agricultural land conversion. Westward expansion of the City of Santa Rosa threatens at least half the remaining habitat.

SEBASTOPOL MEADOW FOAM
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SEBASTOPOL MEADOW FOAM: The species has not been recorded outside southwestern Cotati Valley, where it occurs in less than thirty locations. It is found in seasonally wet meadows, swales and vernal pools in the Laguna de Santa Rosa, Sonoma County. The species ranges from the city of Graton, east to Santa Rosa, southeast to Scenic Avenue, and southwest to the community of Cunningham, largely surrounding the northern and western perimeter of the city of Sebastopol. Primary threats to the species consist of activities that result in the destruction of the plants or hydrologic changes in their habitats, such as development and agricultural land conversion. This species was listed as endangered by the California Department of Fish and Game in November 1979. The California Native Plant Society has placed it on List 1B (rare or endangered throughout its range).

BURKES' GOLDFIELDS
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A very rare Vernal Pool species with limited habitat

BURKE'S GOLDFIELDS: This vernal pool species is known only from southern portions of Lake and Mendocino counties and from northeastern Sonoma County. Historically, 39 populations were known from the Cotati valley, 2 sites in Lake county, and one site in Mendocino County. The occurrence in Mendocino County is most likely extirpated. From north to south in the Cotati Valley, the species ranges from north of the community of Windsor to east of the city of Sebastopol.

Primary threats to the species consist of activities that result in the destruction of the plants or hydrologic changes in their vernal pool habitats. Such activities include urbanization, industrial development and agricultural land conversion.

This species was listed as endangered by the California Department of Fish and Game in September 1997. The California Native Plant Society has placed it on List 1B (rare or endangered throughout its range).

Actual site of casino
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More loss of our rural character

Stop the Casino 101 Coalition, Rohnert Park, CA
marilee[AT]stopgratoncasino.com

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