Action timeline

March 31, 1986 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the desert pupfish as endangered and designated critical habitat for the species.

December 8, 1993 – The Fish and Wildlife Service published a recovery plan for the species.

August 30, 1996 – The Bureau of Land Management responded favorably to a Center lawsuit by admitting that livestock grazing on the Gila River and its tributaries had adverse and harmful effects on several endangered species, especially native fish.

November 15, 1999 – The Center and a coalition of 13 environmental groups alerted the federal agencies responsible for the near total destruction of the Colorado River delta that we would file a lawsuit to protect this endangered ecosystem and the species that depend upon it. The desert pupfish represents just one of several species being driven to extinction by the over-allocation of Colorado River water.

March 16, 2000 – The Center, Sierra Club, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed suit against the Bureau for refusing to curb grazing on the 10-million-acre California Desert Conservation Area and review the effects of livestock on two dozen endangered species, including the desert pupfish. As part of the settlement of this lawsuit, the Bureau agreed to analyze actions impacting the recovery of the desert pupfish and to continue efforts to remove invasive tamarisk from pupfish habitat.

September 4, 2002 – The Salton Sea, located in the southeastern corner of California, is essential habitat for hundreds of species of migratory birds and for endangered residents like the desert pupfish. The Center, Sierra Club, and the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation for its failure to protect the Salton Sea from over-salinization.

June 20, 2005 – The Center secured the future of Arizona's Fossil Creek by negotiating the decommissioning of two hydroelectric powerstations along its banks, returning the full flow to the streambed and setting the stage for the reintroduction of the smorgasbord of native fish that historically inhabited the stream.

January 10, 2008 – The Center filed a lawsuit against the Department of Energy, for failing to consider 95 endangered species, including the desert pupfish, in its fast-track designation of the 45-million-acre Southwest National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor. The complaint detailed violations of the National Environmental Policy Act, Energy Policy Act, and was later amended to include the Endangered Species Act.

April 11, 2008 – The Center and a coalition of our allies submitted comments on the proposed expansion of the U.S. gypsum mine and wallboard plant in Imperial County, California, including a new groundwater well that could destroy pupfish habitat.

Desert pupfish photo © John Rinne