SAVING THE SACRAMENTO SPLITTAIL
The Sacramento splittail is a hearty minnow native to the upper San Francisco Estuary and the Central Valley in California. It once swam in lakes and rivers throughout the Central Valley and in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, but massive water diversions and alteration of important spawning and rearing habitat have driven this formerly common species to near extinction. Remnant populations of splittail in the Delta require adequate freshwater outflow and periodic floodplain inundation.
Although conservation groups petitioned for Endangered Species Act protection for the splittail in 1992 and the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing the species in 1994, the agency delayed listing until the Center and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit and a court ordered the Service to take action. In 1999 the splittail was listed as a threatened species. The Center then filed a lawsuit to obtain critical habitat.
After litigation by water agencies challenging the listing, a court ordered the Service to review the status of the splittail. In 2003 the Service removed the splittail from the threatened species list, despite a strong consensus by scientists within the agency that the species should retain its protected status. In 2009 the Center sued the Service for political interference with the decision to delist the splittail, and in early 2010 the Center won a settlement of that suit, in which the Service agreed to make a new 12-month finding on whether a listing of the species is warranted. Unfortunately, that finding again went against science and declared the fish would remain unprotected.
2009 Center complaint challenging delisting
2007 Report showing two distinct splittail populations
2007 Notice of intent to sue over delisting
2004 Report on biology and population dynamics of splittail
2003 Federal Endangered Species Act delisting
2002 Comments on delisting proposal (Moyle)
1999 Federal Endangered Species Act listing
Contact: Jeff Miller