Nature Conservancy Land Purchase Could Save Alabama's Red Hills Salamander


The Red Hills salamander is found in just five counties in Alabama. Photo by C.K. Dodd Jr., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Guest bloggers Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer are co-founders of NaturallySavvy.com.

A little salamander that is found in only a handful of counties in south Alabama got a boost from the Nature Conservancy last week. The Red Hills salamander is the only species in its genus, and the endangered amphibian could face extinction if its habitat isn't protected. So the Nature Conservancy bought 1,786 acres of the Red Hills Conservation Area, an area that a Nature Conservancy press release calls "a keystone in the big-picture effort" toward recovery and protection of endangered species that is being undertaken by the Nature Conservancy, the state of Alabama, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Red Hills salamander--the official state amphibian of Alabama--has been on the endangered list since 1976. But the protection of the land may help it thrive, says Alabama State Director Chris Oberholster:

If sufficient habitat can be protected for the Red Hills salamander across its limited range to ensure its long-term future, it may be possible to take it off the endangered species list. Since it is an Alabama endemic species, its fate lies in our hands alone.

The area purchased by the Nature Conservancy includes steep bluffs and ravines, where magnolia, high oak, and hickory trees grow--just the kind of habitat that the Red Hills salamander requires.

According to the Nature Conservancy, the land will eventually be transferred to the state for recreational use.

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Tags: Alabama | Ecology | Endangered Species | Preservation

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