Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places of western North America
and the Pacific through science, policy, education, and environmental law.


CONTACT: Martin Taylor, Ph.D. ~ Coordinator, Grazing Reform Project, Center for Biological Diversity, Tucson Office. Email:- Ph:- (520) 623 5252 ext 307
More Information: Grazing Campaign, Loach minnow, Spikdace


On October 20, 2000, the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the US Forest Service for permitting continued grazing in critical habitat for two threatened fish species in 89 livestock grazing allotments on five national forests in the Gila River basin in southern Arizona and New Mexico.

In May of this year as a result of litigation by the Center, nearly 900 miles of streams running through these allotments were designated as "critical habitat" for two threatened fish species, Loach Minnow and Spikedace. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, present species ranges are 15-20 percent of the historical range for Loach Minnow and 10-15 percent for Spikedace.

However, the Forest Service has yet to determine whether livestock grazing is causing adverse impacts on fish habitat in these streams. The Forest Service is required by the Endangered Species Act to do such an analysis before permitting livestock grazing to continue.

Livestock grazing is recognized by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to be a leading factor in the decline of both species. In the designation of critical habitat the Fish and Wildlife Service identified livestock grazing as an activity that "could destroy or adversely modify the critical habitat" by altering watershed and channel quality. Cattle eradicate the riparian trees which shade the streams, chew down the grasses which stabilize the soil, trample the stream banks, pollute the water with manure and cause erosion in the watersheds that makes water too muddy for the fish to breed or survive.

The Center has been in litigation since 1993 to have the loach minnow and spikedace listed as endangered species, to have critical habitat designated and to protect habitat from the multiple threats of grazing, logging, exotic species introductions, water diversions and stream channelization. Center actions to protect these and other imperiled species have reduced logging in the headwaters of the Gila River and forced removals of cattle from hundreds of miles of streams.

The Center is being represented by attorney Marty Bergoffen, and the case is to be heard before Magistrate Carruth in the United States district court in Tucson. The case number is CIV00--594 TUC JC.

Additional resources:-
The US Fish and Wildlife webpages for Loach Minnow and Spikedace:

The Center for Biological Diversity webpages for these species are: & /spikedace.html

Maps of allotments in dispute and the critical habitat are available at:


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