Dixie Valley Toad. Photo by Patrick Donnelly, Center for Biological Diversity

RENO, Nev. Sept. 19, 2017 — The Center for Biological Diversity formally petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking emergency Endangered Species Act protection for the Dixie Valley toad, a newly discovered toad species found in central Nevada.

The toad’s survival is imminently threatened by a proposed geothermal energy project in its range.

“This Dixie Valley toad was only recently discovered to be a unique species, and it’s already in grave danger,” said Jenny Loda, a Center attorney and scientist focused on protecting amphibians and reptiles. “The only place on Earth the toad calls home is threatened by this deeply irresponsible geothermal project.”

The Dixie Valley toad is found in remote wetlands fed by thermal desert springs on the western edge of the Dixie Valley Playa in Nevada’s Churchill County. The toad’s range is restricted to less than 1,500 acres, making it especially vulnerable to any impacts on its habitat. Like many of Nevada’s groundwater-dependent species, it relies on consistent spring flow for survival. The beautiful little toad has large, prominent eyes. Its olive-colored body is dotted with black freckles and rust-colored warts bordered by black halos.

The Bureau of Land Management is currently reviewing the proposed Dixie Meadows Geothermal Development Project, which would harm the toad in constructing facilities and infrastructure on or near its habitat. The project would pump almost 46,000 acre-feet of water per year from the natural underground geothermal reservoir, altering groundwater flow patterns and potentially draining the toad’s wetland habitat.

“It’s horrible to think we may lose this new toad just as we’re beginning to learn about it,” said Loda. “Protecting it under the Endangered Species Act is essential to the animal’s survival.”

In addition to geothermal development in its range, threats to the Dixie Valley toad include disease, climate change, invasive species and groundwater extraction.

The Service has 90 days to respond to today’s petition.

Read more about the Center’s campaign to address the amphibian and reptile extinction crisis.