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LOS PADRES FOREST : New Route to Protect Rare Toad Proposed

September 04, 1992|MACK REED

U. S. Forest Service officials are considering rerouting a recreational trail for motorcycles to avoid the spot where the rubber meets the toad--the rare arroyo toad, that is.

Off-road motorcyclists on the Snowy Trail in the Los Padres National Forest once plunged through the Piru Creek breeding grounds of the arroyo toad, a tiny amphibian that is a candidate for the federal endangered species list.

The trail, used by about 7,500 cyclists a year, was closed during 1990 because of fire danger, and the Forest Service scrapped plans to reopen it after environmentalists warned that off-road motorcyclists could wipe out local arroyo toads altogether.

However, the Forest Service is now seeking public comment on a proposal to reopen the path so that it crosses Piru Creek at least one-quarter to one-half mile from the toads' habitat, said Don Trammell, spokesman for the Forest Service.

Environmentalists as well as motorcyclists hailed the new proposal Thursday.

"I support the trail crossing where they're proposing it," said Sam Sweet, a biologist at UC Santa Barbara who has studied the toads. However, Sweet said he wants to ensure that the path is designed to keep motorcyclists from straying into the toads' territory.

Kurt Hathaway, a member of the California Off-Road Vehicle Assn., said he was pleased to see the problem coming to an end.

"I'm glad we're back on the road getting something done," he said. "Hopefully it will alleviate all the problems so we can get back to having a recreational route and the toads will be protected."

To submit comments, interested people may write to: U. S. Forest Service, Star Route, Box 400, Frazier Park 93225. Public comment closes Oct. 15.

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