Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 1, 2022


Patrick Donnelly, (702) 483-0449,

Dixie Valley Toad Receives Final Endangered Species Protections

Rare Nevada Amphibian Threatened With Extinction by Geothermal Project

RENO, Nev.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it has finalized Endangered Species Act protections for the highly imperiled Dixie Valley toad. The toad was protected under a rare emergency order in April, and those emergency protections expire Dec. 2.

The toads live in a single hot spring-fed wetland in Churchill County, Nevada. With copper skin and dark freckles, they have a song like a baby bird and are scarcely bigger than a quarter.

“Dixie Valley toads are among the most vulnerable amphibians in the United States, and I’m relieved they’re getting the life-saving protections they need,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re pleased that the Biden administration is taking this essential step to prevent the extinction of an irreplaceable piece of Nevada’s special biodiversity.”

This unique species of toad faces extinction because of a geothermal energy project being developed directly adjacent to its sole habitat. Geothermal energy production has been extensively documented to dry up nearby hot springs. If the Dixie Valley toad’s hot springs dry up, the species will go extinct.

The Center submitted an Endangered Species Act petition for the toad in 2017, when the geothermal project was proposed by developer Ormat and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The BLM approved the project in 2021, and the Center and the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe filed a lawsuit challenging that approval. The lawsuit is still working its way through the courts.

Geothermal energy involves pumping and recirculating billions of gallons of groundwater, which can alter subsurface hydrology and change the flow, temperature and geochemistry of hot spring discharge. An independent scientific panel convened by the Service determined that Ormat’s project had a high likelihood of driving the Dixie Valley toad extinct.

“This is a significant victory in the fight against the extinction crisis in Nevada,” said Donnelly. “Renewable energy is essential to combating the climate emergency, but it can’t come at the cost of extinction.”

Dixie Valley Toad. Photo credit: Patrick Donnelly, Center for Biological Diversity Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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