For Immediate Release
Amargosa Toad Takes Long-Overdue Hop Toward Endangered Species Protections
submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees
for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service announced today that it is launching a full status review to determine whether the Amargosa toad
warrants protections under the Endangered Species Act. Among the many
threats to the toad are loss of habitat from development, harm from
off-road vehicle use, groundwater depletions caused by mining, possible
poorly sited solar-energy development, and harm from nonnative species
such as crayfish and bullfrogs.
"The Amargosa toad
has been known to warrant protection as an endangered species since
1977," said Rob Mrowka, an ecologist and conservation advocate with the
Center. "We are very pleased that the toad is one step closer to the
protection it needs to survive." The Amargosa toad is only found
in a short segment of the Amargosa River in the Mojave Desert near
Beatty, Nevada, where springs create marsh and riparian habitat
required by the toad. It is isolated from other toad species by at
least 35 miles, making it a unique endemic species.
"Since these toads were first recognized as needing protection, threats
to them have only increased," said Mrowka. "A growing human population,
increased demand for water, and climate change place the toad in
immediate danger of extinction."
developments pose a significant threat to the continued existence of
the Amargosa toad. The Nevada state engineer, in Ruling 4669,
has found that there is a high degree of interconnectivity between
groundwater and surface water in the Oasis Valley basin. State law
currently allows residents to pump up to 1,800 gallons per day from the
groundwater aquifer without a permit, leading to unmeasured burdens on
the aquifer. The Reward Mine and proposed solar-energy projects further
add to the groundwater demands, all in a basin the state engineer has
previously found to be over-appropriated.
this year, the U.S. Department of Energy filed groundwater applications
in the Oasis Valley for the Yucca Mountain project. The Center protested these applications on behalf of the toad.
"The good news is the Amargosa toad will get a fresh look for stronger
protection, but the bad news is the toad and its Amargosa River habitat
are not doing well after 32 years of delaying full conservation," said
Daniel Patterson, Southwest director of PEER, who formerly worked with
the Bureau of Land Management in the Mojave Desert. "Endangered Species
Act listing for the toad should be welcomed, not feared, as it will
finally bring long-overdue focus and resources to protect and recover
the toad, and the rich scenic landscape it inhabits, for future
generations and a stronger desert web of life."