Tiny desert fish at risk of extinction in Death Valley area, environmental group says

Desert Sun

The Center for Biological Diversity on Friday announced it has filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to seek Endangered Species Act protection for three populations of speckled dace, a minnow-like species that evolved to live in dry areas. The fish is threatened by excessive groundwater pumping for farms and residential development and geothermal energy development, they say.

“Our native freshwater fish deserve a break, and (federal) protections could provide some salvation to the speckled dace,” said Jeff Miller, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Death Valley region is at the epicenter of the mega-drought that’s frying the West, and the speckled dace inhabit fragile desert springs and rivers suffering from the driest year on record. Unsustainable and reckless water-extraction policies piled on top of the drought could drive these unique desert fish to extinction.”

The center petitioned for Endangered Species Act protection for three populations of speckled dace in the region in June 2020. The tiny fish live in freshwater streams and springs in the desert and dry environments of Amargosa Canyon, Long Valley and Owens Valley.

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