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LOS ANGELES, May 31, 2022 — In response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed today to dates by which it will make decisions on whether Santa Ana speckled dace and Long Valley speckled dace warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act.

“I’m relieved to see these imperiled fish getting a chance at the federal protections they need to avoid vanishing forever from California’s rivers,” said Ileene Anderson, deserts director at the Center. “Endangered Species Act safeguards would be a crucial lifeline as Santa Ana and Long Valley speckled dace try to survive climate chaos and other threats. The future will be a tough place for these little fish, and they really need our help.”

Santa Ana speckled dace photo by Paul Barrett/USFWS.

The Center petitioned in 2020 for Santa Ana and Long Valley speckled dace to be protected under the Act. The Service has until July 31, 2024, to decide whether to list the daces as threatened or endangered.

Santa Ana speckled dace inhabit the Santa Ana, San Jacinto, San Gabriel and Los Angeles river systems of Southern California. They prefer perennial streams fed by cool springs with overhanging vegetation and shallow gravel riffles for spawning. These remaining daces survive in small, fragmented populations in only about a quarter of their historical range. They are restricted mainly to headwater tributaries within national forests.

There are seven dams and numerous water diversion facilities on the Southern California rivers where the daces live. These facilities deplete stream flows and isolate fish populations. Reservoirs and dams favor introduced species that prey on and compete with daces. Roads, urban development and river channelization for flood control also degrade habitat the fish needs to survive.

Long Valley speckled dace used to live in Hot Creek and in warm springs throughout the isolated Long Valley volcanic caldera, east of Mammoth Lakes. Geothermal energy development and surface water diversions have altered the area’s hydrology and reduced or dried up hot springs throughout the valley. This has eliminated dace from creeks, lakes and isolated springs and ponds.

Only a few hundred Long Valley speckled dace are left in the world. The small population lives in an artificial pond at a managed refuge in Inyo County, outside the species’ historical range.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.