Online Messenger #292
This week, Western Watersheds Project followed through on its May 13, 2014 notice to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior over the agencies failure to decide whether the Eagle Lake rainbow trout deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act. The species has been awaiting protection for decades, and the threats to the fish and habitat continue to grow while it lingers on the agency’s “to do” list.
The Eagle Lake rainbow trout is uniquely adapted to tolerate the high levels of alkalinity in Eagle Lake, the second largest lake in California, and the only place the species occurs naturally. The fish is long-lived, up to 11 years, which helps it withstand the years when its spawning grounds in Pine Creek are inaccessible due to dry conditions. Current and ongoing threats to the species include a hatchery weir which blocks access to Pine Creek, water diversions for livestock grazing and other uses along Pine Creek that dewater the lower reaches, logging, and competition with non-native brook trout. WWP has been advocating for improved management of the public lands that surround Eagle Lake to help the fish, but it is essential that Endangered Species Act protection be provided if the species is going to recover.
The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California today thanks especially to the hard work of WWP Attorney Paul Ruprecht and California Director Dr. Mike Connor!