Greens push to protect rare fish from gold mining

By Hannah Northey | 07/03/2024 01:46 PM EDT

The Center for Biological Diversity wants new protections for the Oasis Valley speckled dace.

Speckled dace

Speckled dace in Lake Quinault at the mouth of Gatton Creek near Aberdeen, Washington, in 2008. Roger Tabor/Fish and Wildlife Service

Citing the threat of encroaching thirsty gold mines, environmentalists on Tuesday urged the Fish and Wildlife Service to add a rare fish living on a small strip of desert in western Nevada to the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

The Oasis Valley speckled dace — a small silver fish with black spots that only lives in springs that feed the Amargosa River — is facing increasing pressure from dewatering and groundwater pumping tied to numerous proposed gold mines in the region, according to an emergency petition from the Center for Biological Diversity.

“The Amargosa River is in the crosshairs of the international gold-mining industry, and the Oasis Valley speckled dace could be its first casualty,” Patrick Donnelly, the center’s Great Basin director, said in a statement. “If we don’t take immediate action, we could lose this biologically important little fish and the precious, rare desert springs it needs for survival.”


The petition marks the latest maneuver greens are using to fight mining in Nevada’s gold-rich desert to protect habitats of the Amargosa River, a free-flowing river that runs along the border between California and Nevada.