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Secretary Babbitt To Visit Smokies To Learn More Of Scientific Amphibian Project,,And Declining Frog And Toad Populations

Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt will come to Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Friday, July 10, to meet with biologists and discuss the alarming worldwide trend of declining and disappearing amphibian species.

The purpose of his visit is to see firsthand a three-year monitoring project recently undertaken by Dr. Kenneth Dodd to provide information on the diversity of salamander species within the Park. Secretary Babbitt will visit one of the monitoring areas near Indian Gap.

"There now seems to be a clear pattern of decline in populations of frogs and toads that has been recorded throughout the world from pristine areas of the high Sierras in California to the remote uplands of Puerto Rico, from the Amazon Basin to Australia to the Andes in Peru to the cloud forests of Panama," Secretary Babbitt said. "We are looking at places like this one that are renowned for their rich biodiversity and trying to understand why this phenomenon is occurring and how it can be halted."

"These creatures have been hardy enough to survive for 350 million years," he continued. "At the same time they live much of their life-cycle in water and breathe through their skin so they are remarkably sensitive to forces in their environment. I believe it's essential to gain understanding of the scope and extent of this problem. Certainly whatever is killing and deforming frogs, toads and salalmanders may be a powerful warning signal to us all."

Secretary Babbitt will begin his tour of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park monitoring project with a briefing by Dr. Kenneth Dodd at the Sugarlands Visitor Center (Park headquarters) at 10:00 a.m. Following the briefing they will proceed to Indian Gap.

WHERE: Great Smoky National Park - Sugarlands Visitor Center near the Gatlinburg entrance.

WHEN: Friday, July 10, 9:30 a.m.

WHO: Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, Park Superintendent K
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Contact: Stephanie Hanna
shanna@ios.doi.gov
202/208-6416
United States Geological Survey
8-Jul-1998


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