Conserving the Nature of America
Media Advisory
Fish and Wildlife Service Celebrates Endangered Species Day in California, Nevada and the Klamath Basin

May 14, 2009


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

On May 15, 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will honor Endangered Species Day and the numerous nationwide conservation programs underway aimed at protecting America’s threatened and endangered species.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA), one of the most important environmental laws in history, is credited with saving 99.9 percent of species protected by the ESA from extinction. Co-administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the purpose of the ESA is to conserve imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.

When Congress passed the ESA in 1973, it formally established that our rich natural heritage is of "esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people." It also expressed concern that many of our nation’s native fish, wildlife, and plants were in danger of becoming extinct.

"The Endangered Species Act is the nation’s premier law protecting biodiversity today," said Acting Fish and Wildlife Service Director Rowan Gould. "Without this law, we would probably not see bald eagles soaring in our skies or grizzlies in Yellowstone. Endangered Species Day provides an opportunity to celebrate our shared successes and look forward to a strengthened partnership with the American public to conserve our natural treasures of fish, wildlife, and plants."

The Service works with other federal agencies, State and tribal governments, environmental organizations, industry groups, species experts, academia, the scientific community, and other members of the public to conserve our Nation’s threatened and endangered fish, wildlife, and plants.

"Now, more than ever before, we need the contributions of our partners to achieve recovery and conservation of Americas imperiled species," said Endangered Species Assistant Director Bryan Arroyo. "Leveraging the resources, experience and expertise of a wide range of partners is vital to our combined success."

The bald eagle, grizzly bear, American alligator and gray wolf are all species which once found themselves on the list, facing the brink of extinction but have successfully rebounded. The wood stork, Kirtland’s warbler, Louisiana black bear and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle are listed species that are showing good progress towards achieving recovery – the ultimate goal of the ESA. These recovered and recovering species are just a few examples of those benefiting from the protections afforded by the ESA and the dedicated people who work to ensure their continued existence.

In California, Nevada and the Klamath Basin, there are many examples of species that have made significant recovery strides. Three of those are cui-ui, the California condor and Yreka phlox.

Cui-ui: (Chasmistes cujus) is a lake sucker that occurs in only one place in the world; Pyramid Lake, Nev., and was listed as endangered in 1967. Cui-ui (pronounced qwe-we) can live as long as 40 or more years and can weigh more than seven pounds. At the time of listing, the entire cui-ui population consisted of individuals in only two-year classes and no reproduction was occurring. Today the adult population is estimated at more than two million, and there are fish in 16 different age classes. Much of the success of cui-ui recovery can be attributed to increased Pyramid Lake elevation, the implementation of a flow strategy that more accurately mimics natural flow characteristics, and the presence and operation of the Marble Bluff Dam and fish passage facilities that provide passage of cui-ui from the lake into the Truckee River during spawning season.

The California condor: is the largest flying bird in North America – weighing as much as 25 pounds. Its wingspan measures an impressive nine-and-a-half feet. The birds historically ranged from California to Florida, and western Canada to northern Mexico. But by the mid-twentieth century, condor populations had dropped dramatically, and by 1967 the California condor was added to the Endangered Species list. In 1982, only 23 condors survived in the world. Since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began an ambitious recovery program to save the California condor from extinction, the population has been on a strong upward trend. Today, the population has grown to more than 320 birds.

Yreka phlox: The endangered and extremely rare Phlox hirsuta, is a plant with a lot of community supporters in the northern California area where it is found. From the local timber companies, to the federal, city, county and state governments, to nearby residents, many have joined the species recovery team and helped to identify actions to recover the Yreka phlox. One key partner has been the city of Yreka, which has purchased – or obtained through donations – nearly 75 percent of the land on China Hill, one of the two largest areas where the plant grows. This has been a tremendous achievement and has saved the Yreka phlox from being destroyed by development. At the time of listing, the Yreka phlox was known from only two locations in and near Yreka. Now the species is known to be in five locations and population monitoring has begun, all as a result of implementation of the recovery plan, which began in 2006.

There are currently 1317 species listed in the U.S.: 746 plants and 571 animals. To find out what endangered species are near you, and how you can help, please visit

Information contained in older news items may be outdated. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. Individual contacts have been replaced with general External Affairs office information. No other updates have been made to the information and we do not guarantee current accuracy or completeness.

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