Texas, March 11, 2004 (ENS): The U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service and the nonprofit conservation
group Environmental Defense jointly recognized a Texas
family on Wednesday for their dedication to conserving
a rare amphibian species that resides in central Texas.
The federal agency and the nonprofit group praised the
efforts of Robert K. Long, Sr. and his family for their
partnership to create, enhance and restore habitat on
the their 540 acre ranch to benefit the endangered Houston
A ceremony recognizing the partnership was held Wednesday
at the Long family's property, the L & L Ranch,
in Bastrop County, Texas.
Environmental Defense has worked with the Long Family
and the Fish and Wildlife Service over the past year
to develop a Safe Harbor Agreement that outlines specific
management actions designed to provide a net conservation
benefit to the Houston toad.
This kind of agreement is a voluntary arrangement between
the federal government and non-federal landowners that
are designed to benefit endangered species while providing
landowners assurances that they will not incur additional
restrictions on their property due to their beneficial
Conservation measures outlined in the agreement include
activities to facilitate the Houston toad's reproductive
success, improve the quality of foraging and other habitat
areas, and enhance movement between foraging and breeding
areas for the toad on the ranch.
The Houston toad was listed as endangered on October
13, 1970. The species is characterized as a small to
medium sized toad that varies in color from light brown
to reddish to gray. It was historically known to occur
in 12 Texas counties, but is now believed to only reside
in nine counties.
The most robust of the remaining Houston toad populations
occurs in Bastrop County in association with the "Lost
Pines" ecosystem, characterized by pine and oak
woodlands and deep sandy soils.
"Partnerships such as this, where agencies and
private land owners work together with common goals
present true opportunities for species recovery,"
said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional
Director H. Dale Hall.
Several agencies such as Texas Parks and Wildlife Department,
Texas Department of Agriculture, and the Natural Resources
Conservation Services are also expected to participate
in the implementation of the Safe Harbor program on
the L & L Ranch.