This prehistoric fish can grow up to 7.5 feet in length, weigh up to 350 pounds and can live as long as 70 years old. The only remaining spawning populations are in the Sacramento and Klamath River Basins, and possibly the Rouge River in Oregon. It is estimated that each of the three known or suspected spawning populations, contain only a few hundred mature females, which is why a listing attempt was made. Southern populations are listed under the Endangered Species Act but the Klamath populations are still considered as a species of concern.
The Klamath Mountains are home to many salamander species, several of which are endemic only to this region, such as the Siskiyou Mountains salamander and the Scott Bar salamander which have very small home ranges, and logging of old-growth trees in their habitats, along with the increasing risks of forest fire, mining, and construction, put these species at risk of extinction. These salamanders have the smallest ranges of any western salamanders in their genus, occupying a small area on the Oregon-California border in the Klamath-Siskiyou region.
The loss or decline of salamanders from forest ecosystems has important consequences up and down the food chain. Salamanders play a key role in forest nutrient flow, regulating the abundance of soil invertebrates that are responsible for the breakdown of plant detritus. Salamanders’ loss from forested stands is indicative of changes that will likely affect a broad array of species.