Wyoming is now home to a new wildlife refuge to help protect habitats for threatened and endangered species such as toads, bats, shrimp and salamanders, according to federal officials.

The Wyoming Toad Conservation Area is the result of a decades-long, locally led effort to conserve habitat for species while maintaining recreational access according to the U.S. Department of Interior.

The Wyoming refuge is located on 1,078 acres of land known as Bath Ranch.

“Nature is essential to the health, well-being, and prosperity of every family and every community in America. National wildlife refuges help connect Americans to a diverse array of public lands, while also serving as a crucial means of protecting wildlife and conserving habitat,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Through locally led collaborative conservation, these two special landscapes are now protected as part of our shared natural heritage and accessible to everyone.”

The Wyoming Toad is one of the most endangered amphibians in North America. At its full size, the Wyoming toad is only two inches long. This toad looks lumpy -- its body is covered with warts and its head has a humped ridge. The skin is different shades of brown -- perfect for blending in and escaping would-be predators.

In June, about 800 Wyoming toads were released in a continued effort to maintain the species that was once thought to be extinct. This was the eighth year of releasing adult toads and tadpoles in the Laramie-area.

Wyoming Game & Fish
Wyoming Game & Fish

Wyoming Game & Fish wrote that the wild population of the toads is not yet self-sustaining, but progress is being made. Game & Fish herpetological coordinator  Wendy Estes-Zumpf believes it is headed in the right direction.

The conservation is also important for other species including the white-tailed prairie dog, pronghorn and migratory birds. The acquisition will provide future public access to the Laramie River and opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, fishing, hunting, and wildlife observation.

The Service purchased the land using funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which supports increased public access to and protection of federal public lands and waters and provides matching grants to state and Tribal governments for the acquisition and development of public parks and other outdoor recreation sites.

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