Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 26, 2018

Contact:  Jenny Loda, (510) 844-7100 x336,

   Rare Nevada Toad Moves Toward Endangered Species Act Protection

Toad Found Only in Central Nevada Threatened by Energy Development

RENO, Nev.— In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the Dixie Valley toad may qualify for Endangered Species Act protection.

The Center petitioned to protect the toads in September 2017 because of threats posed by geothermal energy development and other factors.

“The Dixie Valley toad is one of the most vulnerable species in Nevada,” said Jenny Loda, a Center biologist and lawyer who works to protect amphibians and reptiles. “I’m pleased that the Fish and Wildlife Service made the right call and this special toad is now one step closer to getting the lifesaving protections it needs.”

Described by scientists as a unique species in 2017, the Dixie Valley toad is found in remote wetlands fed by thermal desert springs on the western edge of the Dixie Valley Playa in Churchill County, Nev. Its range is restricted to less than 1,500 acres, making it especially vulnerable to impacts to its habitat.

The toad has large, prominent eyes and an olive-colored body that’s dotted with black freckles and rust-colored warts bordered by black halos. Like many of Nevada's groundwater-dependent species, it relies on consistent spring flow for survival.

While the development of appropriately placed geothermal and other renewable-energy technologies is key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, numerous scientific studies have found that geothermal development inevitably entails changes to adjacent surface-water features. Such projects must be sited carefully. At Dixie Meadows, Ormat Technologies is proposing to build two 30-megawatt geothermal power plants next to springs that are important habitat for the rare toad.

The Bureau of Land Management is currently reviewing the proposed Dixie Meadows Geothermal Development Project. The project would pump almost 46,000 acre-feet of water per year from the natural underground geothermal reservoir, altering groundwater flow patterns and potentially draining the toad’s wetland habitat.

The Dixie Valley toad is also threatened by invasive species, disease, climate change, groundwater extraction and livestock grazing.

Following today’s 90-day finding indicating that protection may be warranted, the Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct a one-year status review that will result in either a listing proposal or denial.  

Because they are indicator species of a healthy environment, amphibians are one of the most imperiled groups of animals in the country, with one in three being at risk of extinction. Read more about the Center’s campaign to address the amphibian and reptile extinction crisis.

Dixie Valley toad

Photo by Patrick Donnelly, Center for Biological Diversity. Images are available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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