Karen Chavez / Asheville Citizen Times
Lori Williams has spent much of the last 14 years as a biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission crawling through choking rhododendron thickets and scaling slippery rock faces.
Her goal: to find even the glimpse of a little green salamander in a rock crevice.
When Williams can actually get a hold of a whole salamander body, when they are hanging off a rock like a refrigerator magnet, she can measure it, take a skin swab for amphibian disease surveillance and stick the critter back into its little rock crevice hideaway.
Looking back at the countless hours in the field, she can see time well spent. The green salamander, which has been on the North Carolina Endangered Species List since the early 1990s, is now being proposed by the wildlife commission for downlisting to the Threatened Species List.
The salamander is one of 37 species proposed for changes on the state list of protected wildlife. Among them are eight to be added to the endangered list — the most serious.
This green salamander’s downlisting means the species has rebounded a bit from immediate threat of extinction under the state Endangered Species Act. But it is still in need of constant monitoring and habitat conservation, Williams said.
The amphibian is a small success story among many other North Carolina wildlife species that are on the brink of extinction. But the downlisting isn’t the whole story for the green salamander.
“It’s been endangered for a long time, because we haven’t greatly understood where they are. We’ve identified a lot more sites than we had before,” she said.
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