Lawsuit filed to protect northeast Nevada fish

The Center for Biological Diversity has filed suit accusing the Trump administration of illegally delaying action on a petition to protect an endangered Nevada fish.

A spokesman for the nonprofit says the relict dace is a minnow-like fish that exists only in the Johnson Springs Wetland Complex near Wells. The suit charges that the U.S. Forest Service was petitioned in 2014 to protect the fish under the Endangered Species Act saying Newmont Mining’s plan to expand the Long Canyon Gold Mine puts the fish in imminent danger of extinction. It says dewatering the mine to enable its expansion would dry up the tiny springs that are the only place where the fish lives.

In 2015, the Forest Service found that listing the fish as threatened or endangered may be warranted. That started the clock that requires the agency to issue a determination if protection is warranted or required under the law.

“Five years later, however, the agency has yet to issue the required 12-month finding,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada Director at the Center. “Only the Endangered Species Act can save the relict dace but the Trump administration is again violating the law by refusing to evaluate the fish for protection.”

He said Newmont’s own data shows that the groundwater pumping required for the mine expansion would “completely dry up the springs, decimating all wildlife that rely on it including the unique population of relict dace.”

Donnelly said in addition to the tiny fish, the Johnson Springs wetlands complex sustains mule deer, pronghorn antelope, elk, sage grouse, migratory birds, waterfowl and many species of butterflies.

“Our water resources are too precious to waste on mining so out-of-state shareholders can profit,” Donnelly said.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Reno.


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