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Fall 2012

North State Fish Petitioned for Listing

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petitioned the federal government on September 25 to list the Clear Lake hitch under both the federal and state Endangered Species Act.  The hitch is a large minnow found only in Northern California’s Clear Lake and its tributaries. 

The 58-page petition submitted by CBD sites the reasons for listing the minnow to include impacts from; water diversions and pumping, drought, invasive species and pollutants.  According to CBD Clear Lake and its tributaries have been dramatically altered by urban development and agriculture.  They attribute the decline is the species to have been caused by loss of spawning habitat and nursery areas, migration barriers that block passage of spawning grounds, alteration of creek habitat, in-channel mining, temporary road building through channels and predation. 

Locals in Clear Lake fear that listing the hitch could have similar effects as the listing of the red-legged frog that has cause and 8 year delay in some local projects.  Locals have voiced concerns over verifiable scientific evidence that the hitch population is not at a healthy level. 

Things in nature are not static and populations are driven in nature by food supply.  Abundant food supply can cause species to flourish and even overpopulate.  No one wants to see the hitch completely disappear, but as we all know there are serious unintended economic consequences of the ESA.   Limitations to managements and recreation on Clear Lake would have to be implemented if the hitch was added to the list of endangered species.

It is important to be involved in the process as the state and federal government verify that the hitch is at risk of extinction.  The future of the communities around Clear Lake and its tributaries will be greatly impacted by the listing of the hitch.  ■

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