Portland, OR -

Pressed by a lawsuit settlement with a conservation group, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing the Oregon spotted frog for protection as a threatened species.

The notice is to appear Thursday in the Federal Register. A final determination is due in a year.

The Oregon spotted frog once was common from British Columbia to Northern California, particularly along the Willamette River in Oregon. But development of farmland and housing destroyed the wetlands where they live.

Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity says the frog is an indicator of the poor health of Northwest wetlands, much as the northern spotted owl is an indicator of the state of old growth forests.

Critical habitat is being along rivers in Oregon and Washington on both sides of the Cascades.