The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
710 Miles of Critical Habitat Protected for Two Endangered Fish
In response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Feb. 22 finalized designation of 710 river miles of protected critical habitat for the spikedace and loach minnow—two southwestern fish that have been eliminated from more than 80 percent of their historic ranges in Arizona and New Mexico. The agency also uplisted the two fish from “threatened” to “endangered”—a government acknowledgment that they both need, and will receive, more federal protection. The fish, whose populations are declining, are being driven toward extinction by habitat loss and the spread of invasive species.
“Federal recognition of the precarious status of these two fish species should raise a general alarm—we need to take emergency action to protect Southwest rivers and streams,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “These two fishes aren’t an isolated example; there’s an extinction crisis across the board in southwestern rivers. Habitat destruction and invasive species are putting nearly all the native fish, frog and other aquatic species at risk.”
The Center petitioned to have the spikedace and loach minnow uplisted to endangered in 1993. At that time, the Fish and Wildlife Service found the species “warranted” a change in status, but deemed the change “precluded” by listing of other species. Following litigation by Catron County and the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association against previous designations of critical habitat, the Bush administration protected just 522 river miles in 2005. The Center challenged this designation, resulting in the Feb. 22 designation of 710 river miles, including portions of the Verde, Blue, Black, San Francisco and Gila rivers and Eagle, Bonita, Aravaipa and Tonto creeks.
“Saving endangered species means protecting the places they live,” said Greenwald. “Critical habitat will let these two small fish survive, yes, but it’ll also benefit the people of the Southwest, who will still have the chance to see living rivers.”
A number of areas were excluded from the critical habitat despite being essential to the fishes’ survival, including portions of the San Pedro, Verde, White and San Francisco rivers and Eagle Creek, based on argued conflicts with national security on Fort Huachuca and management by tribes and the mining company Freeport-McMoRan.
“Even though they’re not officially part of the fishes’ critical habitat, we’re really hoping these rivers will be maintained and recovered—both for spikedace and loach minnows and also for the many other rare species that depend on these waters for survival,” said Greenwald.
For more information, click here.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
by Jordan Davidson
Taking action to stop the mercury from rising is a matter of life and death in the U.S., according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances.
By Alisa Opar
For Chinook salmon, the urge to return home and spawn isn't just strong — it's imperative. And for the first time in more than 65 years, at least 23 fish that migrated as juveniles from California's San Joaquin River and into the Pacific Ocean have heeded that call and returned as adults during the annual spring run.
By Jessica Corbett
Dozens of students, parents, teachers and professionals joined a Friday protest organized by Extinction Rebellion that temporarily stalled morning rush-hour traffic in London's southeasten borough of Lewisham to push politicians to more boldly address dangerous air pollution across the city.
Jose A. Bernat Bacete / Moment / Getty Images
By Bridget Shirvell
On a farm in upstate New York, a cheese brand is turning millions of pounds of food scraps into electricity needed to power its on-site businesses. Founded by eight families, each with their own dairy farms, Craigs Creamery doesn't just produce various types of cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss and Muenster cheeses, sold in chunks, slices, shreds and snack bars; they're also committed to becoming a zero-waste operation.
By Jessica A. Knoblauch
Summers in the Midwest are great for outdoor activities like growing your garden or cooling off in one of the area's many lakes and streams. But some waters aren't as clean as they should be.
That's in part because coal companies have long buried toxic waste known as coal ash near many of the Midwest's iconic waterways, including Lake Michigan. Though coal ash dumps can leak harmful chemicals like arsenic and cadmium into nearby waters, regulators have done little to address these toxic sites. As a result, the Midwest is now littered with coal ash dumps, with Illinois containing the most leaking sites in the country.