Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 22, 2022


Krista Kemppinen, (602) 558-5931,
Patrick Donnelly, (702) 483-0449,

Rare Nevada Fish Advances Toward Endangered Species Protection

Fish Lake Valley Tui Chub Threatened by Groundwater Pumping

RENO, Nev.— In response to a Center for Biological Diversity petition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the Fish Lake Valley tui chub may qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Service has one year to complete a full status review and decide whether to protect the fish.

The Fish Lake Valley tui chub is a very rare minnow whose current habitat is restricted to a single spring on a ranch in Fish Lake Valley, Nevada. These small fish were once found at several locations in the valley, but they have been lost from all but one spring system. Much of the chub’s habitat has been lost to alteration and groundwater overpumping, putting the fish at risk of extinction.

“I’m pleased that the Fish Lake Valley tui chub is getting a shot at the protection that’s needed to beat extinction,” said Krista Kemppinen, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Center. “Over-exploitation of groundwater is a huge threat to these fish and the spring they call home.”

Groundwater pumping in Fish Lake Valley is done primarily to grow alfalfa, a water-intensive crop that is frequently exported to Asia or the Middle East and used to support meat-intensive diets in the United States. Other threats to the tui chub’s water supply include proposed mines and energy projects.

“This decision highlights just how badly Nevada has failed to manage groundwater for irreplaceable species like the Fish Lake Valley tui chub,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the Center. “Water levels are falling all over Fish Lake Valley. I hope that Endangered Species Act protection will prompt smarter management of groundwater and save these fish and all the other plants and animals that depend on rare desert springs.”

Fish Lake Valley tui chub, photo credit Nevada Department of Wildlife.

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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