For Immediate Release, July 19, 2010
Contact: Rob Mrowka, Center for Biological Diversity, (702) 249-5821 or firstname.lastname@example.org;
Amargosa Toad Denied Protections Under the Endangered Species Act
LAS VEGAS— In response to a February 2008 scientific petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will announce tomorrow that after conducting a full status review it has determined that the Amargosa toad does not warrant protected status under the Endangered Species Act.
“The Amargosa toad is a species whose long-term survival has been of concern since 1977,” said Rob Mrowka, a Nevada-based ecologist and conservation advocate with the Center. “Since our petition in 2008, many new conservation measures have been instituted by the Amargosa Toad Working Group, and that’s encouraging. On the other hand, some very serious new threats have cropped up, such as groundwater development for solar facilities and the increasing impacts of a hotter, drier climate; these weren’t given adequate consideration.”
The Amargosa toad is found only in a short segment of the Amargosa River in the Mojave Desert near Beatty, Nevada, where springs create ponds and riparian habitat required by the toad. It is isolated from all other toads by at least 35 miles, making it a unique species found nowhere else in the world.
“The proliferation of solar projects in the Amargosa Valley, and now proposed for the Nevada Test Site, are placing unsustainable demands on the ancient groundwater aquifers that feed the springs and seeps that are critical to the well-being of the toad,” said Mrowka.
The Nevada state engineer, in Ruling 4669, has found that there is a high degree of interconnectivity between groundwater and surface water in the Oasis Valley basin. The groundwater flow in this basin is connected to basins that are, or will be, under heavy demand for water to support solar developments, such as the large solar facility announced recently by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on the Nevada Test Site. Other solar facilities in the Amargosa Valley, while switching from wet- to dry-cooled technologies, will cumulatively place an increased demand on the groundwater flow as well.
In a recent report, the U.S. Global Change Research Program found it highly likely that the southwestern United States will experience significantly higher temperatures and reduced precipitation leading to “a serious water supply challenge in the decades and centuries ahead.” This, coupled with groundwater depletions, signals severe future threats for the toad. “Given the animal’s extremely small range and population size, the integrity of individual springs and seeps becomes a matter of life or extinction for the toad,” said Mrowka. “In its finding, the Fish and Wildlife Service has ignored that fact that the Amargosa toad is the canary in the coal mine with respect to climate change impacts.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 255,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.