Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

October 15, 2008

Contact:  Larry Crist 801-975-3330 ext 126

 

Least Chub May Warrant Protection Under the Endangered Species Act

 

The least chub, a member of the minnow family found in the Bonneville Basin, may warrant federal protection as a threatened or endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today following an initial review of a petition seeking to protect the least chub under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

 

The Service will now undertake a more thorough status review of the least chub to determine whether to propose adding the species to the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants.

 

Today’s decision, commonly known as a 90-day finding, is based on scientific information about the species provided in the petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity and others requesting listing of the least chub under the ESA. 

 

This petition finding does not mean that the Service has decided it is appropriate to give the least chub federal protection under the ESA.  Rather, this finding is the first step in a process that triggers a more thorough review of all the biological information available.

 

The least chub is native to the Bonneville Basin of Utah where it was once widely distributed throughout a variety of habitats, including rivers, streams, springs, ponds, marshes, and swamps. 

 

Currently, six known, wild populations remain.  Three are in Snake Valley in Utah’s west desert and include the Leland Harris Spring Complex, Gandy Salt Marsh, and Twin Spring.  The remaining three wild populations are located along the Wasatch Front and include Mills Valley and Clear Lake in the Sevier River drainage and Mona Springs in the Utah Lake drainage.

 

Wasatch front populations are increasingly threatened by urbanization, invasion of nonnative species, agricultural practices, peat mining, and oil and gas exploration.  The Mona population may already be extirpated.  West desert populations, in addition to existing agricultural and drought related threats, face potential effects of proposed groundwater withdrawals from Spring Valley, Nevada, and Snake Valley, Nevada.  Snake Valley crosses the Utah state line and extends into Nevada.  Effects from groundwater pumping may additionally impact these last remaining wild habitats.

 

To ensure this status review is comprehensive, the Service is soliciting information from state and federal natural resource agencies and all interested parties regarding the least chub and its habitat.

 

Specifically, the Service is seeking information regarding the species’ historical and current status and distribution, its biology and ecology, ongoing conservation measures for the species and its habitat, and threats to the species and its habitat.

 

Comments and information must be received or postmarked on or before December 13, 2008 and may be submitted via the federal rulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov or via U.S. mail or hand-delivery to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2008-0088; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.

 

Based on the status review, the Service will make one of three possible determinations:

 

1) Listing is not warranted, in which case no further action will be taken.

 

2) Listing as threatened or endangered is warranted.  In this case, the Service will publish a proposal to list, solicit independent scientific peer review of the proposal, seek input from the public, and consider the input before a final decision about listing the species is made.  In general, there is a one-year period between the time a species is proposed and the final decision.

 

3) Listing is warranted but precluded by other, higher priority activities.  This means the species is added to the federal list of candidate species, and the proposal to list is deferred while the Service works on listing proposals for other species that are at greater risk.  A warranted but precluded finding requires subsequent annual reviews of the finding until such time as either a listing proposal is published, or a not warranted finding is made based on new information.

 

For more information about the least chub, please visit the Service’s web site at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov

 

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

 

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