Press Release
Service Announces the Final Recovery Plan for the Arkansas River Shiner
The plan outlines necessary steps to recover the imperiled minnow, found only in the South Canadian River
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved a recovery plan for the Arkansas River shiner (Notropis girardi), a minnow found in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. This recovery plan serves as a roadmap for the conservation of the Arkansas River shiner and its habitat and establishes criteria for delisting the species, originally listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1998.

The Arkansas River shiner is a two-inch, streamlined minnow with a relatively small eye and flattened head. This species is a pelagic broadcast spawner, meaning its semi-buoyant eggs are released into the water column and require moving water for their development. It is estimated that the Arkansas River shiner requires over 135 miles of free-flowing, unobstructed river to complete its life cycle. Historically, these fish inhabited large sand-bed rivers throughout the southern Great Plains. They survived under the harsh conditions of prairie streams where water temperatures can rise to nearly 100 degrees in the summer, floods can overtop banks, and drought can leave only isolated pools of habitat available.

Human-driven changes to large prairie rivers, such as habitat destruction, stream channelization and impoundment, flow reductions and water quality degradation has reduced the range of these hardy fish by over 80 percent. Today, the Arkansas River shiner is found only in the South Canadian River, where a loss of natural, unfragmented flows is impacting the ability of the species to repopulate upstream reaches. Collaborative watershed-scale partnerships will be necessary to recover the Arkansas River shiner and the Great Plains rivers it once occupied.

The overall recovery strategy for the Arkansas River Shiner is to improve the state of current populations, reverse habitat degradation in currently and historically occupied river segments, and then perform reintroductions, with the goal of maintaining three or more resilient populations into the foreseeable future.

Recovery plans are not regulatory documents, and implementation actions are not required by the Endangered Species Act. Recovery plans instead serve as road maps with specific management actions to foster cooperation in conservation for listed species and their ecosystems.

The final recovery plan will be made available at: 
To obtain a copy by mail, send a request to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office, 9014 E 21st St, Tulsa, OK 74129, or by phone: 918-382-4501.

Story Tags

Ecosystem recovery
Endangered and/or Threatened species
Rivers and streams