Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 12, 2019


Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495,

Oregon Fish Is Saved by Endangered Species Act

Foskett Speckled Dace Recovered, Removed From Endangered Species List

PORTLAND, Ore.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that Oregon’s Foskett speckled dace has recovered and is being removed from endangered status.

The small fish is the 42nd species to be successfully recovered by this incredibly important, but severely threatened, law.

When protected in 1985, the dace was found in small numbers in just one spring in the Warner Basin in eastern Oregon. The spring was threatened by livestock grazing and potentially groundwater pumping for agriculture.

Following protection under the Act, the spring was obtained by the Bureau of Land Management in a land exchange. Cattle were kept out of the majority of habitat by fencing, and a program of monitoring and habitat management was established, including participation by the state, federal agencies and academic researchers.

“The recovery of this Oregon fish provides the best kind of proof the Endangered Species Act is working,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Without this critical law, we wouldn’t have gray whales, bald eagles or Foskett speckled dace in Oregon. I’m glad this unique fish has been saved, but I’m very worried about the Trump administration weakening the law that saved it.”

Despite the Act’s success, or perhaps because of it, the Trump administration is working overtime to dismantle the law.

In August the administration passed new regulations to dramatically weaken the Act’s implementation by lessening standards for federal agencies to protect critical habitat for species like spotted owls. The changes eliminate automatic protections for threatened species and make it harder for species to gain protection in the first place.

“Critics of the Endangered Species Act have frequently and wrongly complained that it’s not recovering species, but the Foskett speckled dace highlights the law’s effectiveness,” said Greenwald.

The Foskett speckled dace is a relic of the Pleistocene period, when Coleman Lake and many other lakes in the Warner Basin consistently held water. The fish has managed to survive in a small spring for thousands of years. It is part of what makes Oregon unique and helps to tell the story of what came before, providing a connection to the past.

Foskett speckled dace photo is available for media use with appropriate credit. Please credit USFWS.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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