Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 10, 2020


Stephanie Kurose, (202) 849-8395,

Tiny Oregon Lake Fish Is Latest Endangered Species Act Success

PORTLAND, Ore.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the Borax Lake chub, a 2-inch fish found only in Borax Lake in southeast Oregon, has made a full recovery and no longer needs the protections of the Endangered Species Act.

Prior to receiving protection under the Act in 1980, the chub was threatened by geothermal projects and other development that caused the loss of freshwater streams that flow into Borax Lake. More than 300 acres of habitat, including the lake itself, were permanently protected, and the ponds and natural marshes next to the lake were reestablished to create additional habitat for the fish.

“The odds were stacked against this tiny little fish, but thanks to the Endangered Species Act the Borax Lake chub escaped extinction,” said Stephanie Kurose, an endangered species policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s an amazing comeback for one of Oregon’s most imperiled creatures.”

The chub is the only species of fish that inhabits the 10-acre Borax Lake, which can reach temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit due to thermal hot springs. The fish survives by staying in cooler waters at the edge of the lake, away from the hot springs at its center.

In 2000 Congress passed the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act, which designated the area around the lake as off-limits to geothermal exploration and mining.

The fish is now the 47th species delisted for recovery in the United States and one of 23 in the past five years. Although the Trump administration has moved forward with delisting several species, it has failed to protect additional imperiled species.

“As we face an accelerating and unprecedented extinction crisis, now more than ever we need to be protecting our nation’s most vulnerable animals and plants,” said Kurose. “The Endangered Species Act is the best tool we have to save more species like the chub from extinction.”

Borax Lake chub photo by Bridget Moran, USFWS. Graph by 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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