Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 25, 2019

Contact: Stephanie Kurose, (202) 849-8395,

Tiny Oregon Fish Recovered by Endangered Species Act

PORTLAND, Ore.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed removing Endangered Species Act protections from the Borax Lake chub, a 2-inch fish found only in Borax Lake in southeast Oregon.

The chub was threatened because geothermal projects and other development caused the loss of freshwater streams that flow into Borax Lake.

The fish gained Endangered Species Act safeguards in 1980. That spurred the protection of more than 300 acres of habitat, including the lake itself. Those safeguards also secured conservation agreements to limit damage to the streams around the lake.

“The Borax Lake chub has a bright future thanks to the Endangered Species Act, and I’m happy this unique little fish will continue to thrive in the wild,” said Stephanie Kurose, endangered species policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Act is the world’s most successful wildlife conservation law, and the chub’s recovery is another powerful testament to its effectiveness.”

The chub is the only species of fish that inhabits the 10-acre Borax Lake, which can reach temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit because of 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 Borax Lake chub joins a growing list of species that have recently recovered with protection under the Endangered Species Act. Since 2016, at least 14 species have been recovered. These include four subspecies of island foxes from California’s Channel Islands, two humpback whale populations and the Kirtland’s warbler in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Listing a plant or animal as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act leads to science-based measures tailored to prevent its extinction. The Act has been successful in saving more than 99 percent of species placed under its care, despite significant underfunding of the law’s vital measures and repeated political attacks against the Act itself.

Borax Lake chub population graph

Borax Lake chub photo by Bridget Moran, USFWS. Graph courtesy Center for Biological Diversity. Images are available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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