From email from Save the Poudre (Gary Wockner):
Today a coalition of citizens’ groups provided the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) with a formal written notice of the groups’ intent to sue the Agency over its failure to address the groups’ petition to list the Arapahoe Snowfly, an insect important for the ecological health of the Poudre River basin, as an endangered species. Snowflies (sometimes called winter stoneflies) require cool, clear rivers and streams to survive, which makes them excellent biological indicators of watershed health – the Poudre Watershed is the Arapahoe Snowfly’s only known place of existence on earth. The Arapahoe Snowfly is endangered by a host of environmental problems, including stream dewatering. Scientists and conservation groups believe the Snowfly is on the brink of extinction in the Poudre River ecosystem.
“Our organization’s mission is to protect and restore the Poudre River,” said Gary Wockner of Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper. “And that extends to every species living in the river. We believe the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is violating the Endangered Species Act by not addressing our petition to list the Arapahoe Snowfly.”
By law, when any person or group petitions the USFWS to list a species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the USFWS has 90 days to evaluate the petition and make a “finding.” The coalition of groups filed the petition on April 6, 2010 – the finding should have occurred by July 6, 2010. The Service is now nearly 5 months late.
“Unfortunately, these delays are all too common in our dealings with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Nicole Rosmarino, whose group WildEarth Guardians is leading the legal effort to list the Arapahoe Snowfly under the ESA. “While the USFWS has paid lip service to speeding up its ESA work, hundreds of species remain waiting for findings in the United States. The Arapahoe Snowfly simply cannot wait – we will continue to press the government to issue a finding on this species.”
There are now 251 species of plants and wildlife that are formal “candidates” awaiting federal listing. Many of these species have been on the waiting list for protection for a decade or more. Outside of Hawaii, only 4 new U.S. species have been listed under the Act since Interior Secretary Ken Salazar took office. At the current pace, it would take nearly a century to get through the backlog of candidate species in the continental U.S.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to act immediately,” said Scott Black of Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “The Poudre River ecosystem cannot afford to lose the Arapahoe Snowfly – we can’t allow the Snowfly to go extinct.”
Co-signing the NOI are all of the groups that originally filed the petition, including: The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation , an international nonprofit scientific organization dedicated to protecting wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat; Dr. Boris Kondratieff , a Colorado State University entomologist and expert in aquatic insects who discovered the Arapahoe Snowfly; Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper , an organization that works to protect and restore the Cache la Poudre River; Cache la Poudre River Foundation , an organization founded for the protection of Wild Trout through the town of Fort Collins, Colorado; WildEarth Guardians , which protects and restores wildlife, wild rivers and wild places in the American West; and Center for Native Ecosystems , a group dedicated to protecting native species and their habitats in the Rocky Mountain Region.
The Notice of Intent (NOI) to sue is publicly posted here: http://poudreriver.home.comcast.net/~poudreriver/Arapahoe_Snowfly_60d_NOI.pdf
Read the petition.
Read more about the Arapahoe snowfly.
More coverage from the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams):
A coalition of environmental and citizen activist groups today filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for failing to act on a petition to list the Arapahoe Snowfly – native to the Poudre River basin in northern Colorado – as an endangered species. The snowfly, also called winter snowflies, are only found in the Poudre watershed, but are seen by conservationists as an “indicator species’ indicative of the overall biological health of watershed. The groups planning to sue the USFWS cite scientists who feel the snowfly is on the brink of extinction, an indication the Poudre is succumbing to mounting pressure from a variety of users.
More endangered/threatened species coverage here.