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Action timeline

August 8, 2007 – The Center, Bay Institute and Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the San Francisco Bay-Delta population of longfin smelt as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Simultaneously, we petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to list the fish statewide under the California Endangered Species Act.

February 7, 2008 – The California Fish and Game Commission voted to designate the longfin smelt as a candidate for listing under the California Endangered Species Act, committing to conducting a review of the species’ status and making a final decision on whether or not to protect the species by August 2008.

May 6, 2008 – The Fish and Wildlife Service made a positive finding on our 2006 listing petition, with a final listing decision due by August 2008.

March 4, 2009 – The California Fish and Game Commission voted to protect the longfin smelt as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act.

March 24, 2009 – The Center joined with the Bay Institute to file a notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to make final determinations on federal Endangered Species Act protections for the delta smelt and longfin smelt.

April 8, 2009 – The Fish and Wildlife Service denied federal protection to the San Francisco Bay-Delta population of the longfin smelt, declaring it did not qualify as a “distinct population segment.” However, the agency did announce it would examine the conservation status of the species across its range.

September 2, 2009 – The Center and a coalition of conservation and commercial fishing organizations sent a letter to the California legislature opposing a flawed Delta bill package and opposing the approval of an environmentally destructive “peripheral canal.” The dams that would result from the bill package, along with the canal, had the potential to devastate the Bay-Delta ecosystem and its native fisheries.

November 13, 2009 – The Center sued the Fish and Wildlife Service for denying the longfin smelt needed federal protections.

March 19, 2010 – The National Academy of Sciences released a peer-review report that validated federal “biological opinions” and federal actions, particularly seasonal reductions in water pumping, to protect endangered fish species in the San Francisco Bay-Delta.

February 2, 2011 – A federal district court approved a settlement agreement between the Center for Biological Diversity, Bay Institute and Fish and Wildlife Service requiring the agency to reevaluate the need for federal Endangered Species Act protection for longfin smelt in the beleaguered Bay-Delta.

March 29, 2012 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today determined that the San Francisco Bay-Delta population of longfin smeltwarrants protection under the federal Endangered Species Act — but, rather than provide those protections, the agency added it to a federal waiting list. 

Photo courtesy of NOAA