U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service



February 6, 1996

Bob Williams (801) 524-5001
Mike Smith (303) 236-7905
Sharon Rose (303) 236-7905

Conservation Agreement Avoids Listing of Virgin Spinedace

A Conservation Agreement developed by the State of Utah and others has prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to withdraw a proposal to list the Virgin spinedace as a threatened species and to designate critical habitat.

The Conservation Agreement is designed to improve the status of the species and diminish threats to where listing is no longer necessary under the Endangered Species Act.

"This conservation agreement offers the State, Federal and Tribal governments and private landowners an opportunity to work together in partnership. Not only will this agreement work toward eliminating the need to list the Virgin spinedace, but at the same time it will begin to protect and enhance the habitat of other species dependent on the Virgin River basin," said Ralph Morgenweck, Regional Director for the Service's Mountain-Prairie Region.

The goal is to ensure that the species occupy at least 80 percent of its historical habitat. To see that goal is met, objectives of the agreement include enhancement and maintenance of habitat, selective control of non-native fish, maintenance of genetic viability and monitoring populations and habitat.

Development of this agreement demonstrates the Service's commitment to a more cooperative approach to endangered species. It allows protection of a rare species without the need for a formal listing under the ESA.

The Virgin spinedace is a small silvery minnow with a brassy sheen and sooty blotches on its side and is endemic to the Virgin River Basin in southwestern Utah, northwestern Arizona and southeastern Nevada. Current populations are fragmented and occur almost exclusively in Utah on Federal, State, Tribal and some private lands.

The Virgin spindace's decline is attributed to water development projects, agriculture, mining, urbanization and introduction of non-native fish.

The Virgin spinedace will remain a species at risk.

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