Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 9, 2021


Krista Kemppinen, (602) 558-5931,
Patrick Donnelly, (702) 467-8792,

Endangered Species Act Protection Sought for Nevada’s Fish Lake Valley Tui Chub

Rare Desert Fish Threatened by Habitat Loss From Groundwater Pumping

TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today seeking Endangered Species Act protections for the critically imperiled Fish Lake Valley tui chub.

These small fish were once found at several locations in Fish Lake Valley, Nevada, but they have been lost from all but one spring system. Significant habitat loss has occurred due to habitat alteration and groundwater development, putting the fish at risk of extinction.

The sole remaining habitat of the tui chub is jeopardized by groundwater overpumping in Fish Lake Valley, which threatens to dry up the springs the fish relies on. Endangered Species Act protection would ensure that federal and state agencies afford adequate protections to the remaining population.

“Without protection under the Endangered Species Act, this unique little fish will disappear forever,” said Krista Kemppinen, a staff scientist at the Center. “If the Fish Lake Valley tui chub is to have any chance at survival, we have to do a better job of managing water in one of the most arid regions of the United States. Isolated springs like the one the tui chub lives in have enormous value for numerous plants and animals and people alike.”

Most of the groundwater pumped in Fish Lake Valley is used in the production of alfalfa, a water-intensive crop. In recent years alfalfa has increasingly been exported from the western United States to other countries.

The Fish Lake Valley tui chub’s last known population also occurs in the vicinity of active geothermal leases and lithium placer claims. Developing those could put the springs where the fish lives at risk.

The Fish Lake Valley tui chub is a unique fish, under 5 inches long, that prefers slow-moving, pooled water and depends on the small, isolated spring habitats that have evolved in Fish Lake Valley.

“The state of Nevada has failed to appropriately manage groundwater, and water levels are falling all over Fish Lake Valley,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director at the Center. “If we don’t take action soon, we risk losing this special fish forever. Only the Endangered Species Act can save the Fish Lake Valley tui chub.”

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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