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Status of Listed Species and Recovery Plan Development

Cheat Mountain Salamander

Plethodon nettingi -- Threatened

West Virginia


JPG-Cheat Mountain Salamander     GIF-Occurrence map

Current Status:

Most of the known populations of the Cheat Mountain salamander are small, and the species appears to be susceptible to relatively subtle changes in its environment, such as drought, reduction of the forest canopy by storms, and competition with other salamanders. Pollution factors such as acid precipitation may also affect the survival of the salamander.

Achievements:

Searches have increased knowledge of the distribution and population status of this species. Although real numbers are probably not increasing, many of the 70 known populations exist on protected lands, primarily national forests. Biologists are searching for additional populations and monitoring known populations.

Section 7 consultations with the Forest Service have been very effective in providing protection to the salamander through movement or modification of proposed roads, trails, and timber sales. Standards and guidelines to protect the salamander, established by the Forest Service and approved by the State and the Fish and Wildlife Service, apply to any project that may affect occupied or potential salamander habitat. As part of this process, numerous areas of the Monongahela National Forest are being surveyed for salamanders.

Current Recovery Needs:

Protecting populations on private lands remains a need. For populations on national forest lands, management prescriptions benefitting this species will need to be refined as more information about habitat requirements is obtained. Preservation of the salamander's microhabitat conditions (i.e., maintaining humidity and temperature conditions) is critical. Continued surveys and at least 9 years of additional monitoring are necessary to determine whether population trends and habitat conditions indicate long-term survival of this species in the wild.

Section 6 Funding and Activities:

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources received $5,000 in both FY 1991 and FY 1992 to conduct population monitoring and surveys.

Partnerships

Forest Service: In accordance with its Monongahela National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, the Forest Service has made conserving the Cheat Mountain salamander an integral part of the planning process, resulting in significant habitat identification and protection.

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources: Responsible for monitoring populations and protecting habitat, the Division has been instrumental in conducting surveys showing that the salamander is more abundant than originally thought. The State participates in section 7 consultations by providing information, and coordinating and cooperating with the Fish and Wildlife Service in determining the impacts of projects on the salamander.

Recovery Plan Status:

Plan approved 7/25/91.

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