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Endangered Local Frogs Get Another Year of Peace

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Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts will still have to stay clear of a 1,000 acre area in the Angeles National Forest for another year, but for a good reason. The relatively small closure in the 655,000 acre forest is to protect a critical habitat for the endangered mountain yellow-legged frog.

"This once-abundant amphibian is disappearing," said Dr. Roland Knapp who runs a website and blog dedicated to the animal. "Many of the lakes and ponds in which I observed mountain yellow-legged frogs just a few years ago no longer contain them, leaving behind an eerie silence.

The mountain yellow-legged frog was once a common frog in California, but has been pushed to near extinction by disease, wildfires and modern life encroaching on their habitats. The amphibian can live in elevations from around 1,000 to 12,000 feet and can mostly be found in the higher elevations these days.

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The area around Williamson Rock has been closed since 2005 and will remain closed until at least through 2009 when it will be up for renewal pending the frog's status. Its habitat is north of Angeles Crest Highway (SR 2) in the vicinity of Cooper Canyon. Hikers using the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail will be re-routed around the closed area.

Ken Bohn/Zoological Society of San Diego