Though the Lower Kootenai River burbot is more imperiled than the Kootenai River white sturgeon, it is not yet protected under the Endangered Species Act. American Wildlands and the Idaho Conservation League petitioned the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list the burbot as an endangered species on 2-2-00. Though legally required to render an initial finding within 90 days, the Service refused to do so. In August of 2001, however, the Center for Biological Diversity negotiated a historic agreement with the Department of Interior to issue listing decisions on 29 species around the nation, including the burbot. The Fish & Wildlife Service thus published its positive 90-day finding on 9-28-01.

Unfortunately, the agency is now more than 14 months late in issuing a proposed listing rule. American Wildlands and the Idaho Conservation League filed suit on 1-30-02 to force the agency to act. That case is now being argued in federal court. Once the burbot is listed as an endangered species, the Army Corps of Engineers will face even stronger legal pressure to reform its management of Libby Dam.

graphic Andrew Rodman ©2002
May 21, 2003
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