Friday April 15, 2022

Center for Biological Diversity

In a legal victory for the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed today to again consider Endangered Species Act protections for the Clear Lake hitch. This large minnow is found only in Northern California’s Clear Lake.

In 2020 the agency wrongly denied the hitch protection despite severe declines in spawning fish and a near complete loss of tributary spawning habitat due to drought and water withdrawal.

“I’m so glad the Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to reconsider protections for the severely endangered Clear Lake hitch,” said Meg Townsend, freshwater attorney at the Center. “Vital to the Clear Lake ecosystem and the cultural legacy of the Pomo people, the hitch is California’s most imperiled native fish. These fish should never have been denied protection in the first place.”

Clear Lake hitch are found only in the lake bearing their name. The hitch were once so plentiful that it was easy to spot millions teeming up the lake’s feeder streams during their spectacular spring spawning runs. The hitch has been a staple food and cultural mainstay of the original Pomo inhabitants of the region for eons. Clear Lake hitch are also an important food source for numerous birds, fish and other wildlife. In recent years, however, only a few thousand fish have spawned.

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