Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 12, 2023


Laiken Jordahl, (928) 525-4433,

Rare Arizona Springsnail Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection

AJO, Ariz.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to protect the Quitobaquito tryonia, a tiny springsnail found only at a single spring in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The agency also proposed to designate 6,095 square feet of critical habitat in two subunits, including approximately 1,000 feet of the spring channel and a nearby seep.

“I’m thrilled that these remarkable desert survivors are on their way to federal protection,” said Laiken Jordahl, Southwest conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These tiny, resilient springsnails don’t live anywhere else in the world, and they could be wiped out by groundwater pumping and future border-wall construction. To save them, we have to protect Quitobaquito Springs, a miraculous emerald jewel that’s really the entire universe for these mighty, miniature survivors.”

About the size of a poppy seed, the Quitobaquito tryonia has evolved to survive in one tiny pocket of fresh water in one of the driest parts of the Sonoran Desert. Quitobaquito Springs, a freshwater pond that is a sacred site to the Hia-Ced O’odham people and Tohono O’odham Nation, is just a stone’s throw from the U.S.-Mexico border.

Diversion of surface water and pumping of groundwater for agriculture have led to the loss of much of the watery habitat the springsnail needs to survive. Border wall builders also drilled wells and pumped millions of gallons of groundwater near Quitobaquito Springs to support border wall construction, further imperiling the precious water that serves as the only lifeline for Quitobaquito tryonia.

“The springsnail’s survival depends on the perennial flow of water in Quitobaquito Springs,” said Jordahl. “If this habitat dries up, that spells extinction for this vulnerable springsnail. We hope the proposed protection of the Quitobaquito tryonia will spur urgent action to protect groundwater aquifers in this stunning corner of the Southwest.”

The Quitobaquito tryonia also faces threats from a system of stadium lighting that has been installed along the border wall but has not yet been activated. If turned on, these stadium lights would blast artificial light into Quitobaquito Springs, severely altering the currently pitch-dark habitat and threatening the aquatic species that live there, including the endangered Quitobaquito pupfish and Sonoyta mud turtle.

Today’s decision comes after a 2020 lawsuit in which the Center sued the Trump administration for failing to make protection decisions for 241 species, including the Quitobaquito tryonia.

Quitobaquito Springs. Please credit Russ McSpadden / 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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