Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

[LAR] FW: article on Santa Ana sucker

Expand Messages
  • Linton, Joe
    ... ____________________________________________________________________ List Site: http://www.findmail.com/list/la-river-discuss/ To unsubscribe, send to
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 1998
    • 0 Attachment
      > Tuesday, September 1, 1998
      > Environmentalists Step Up Efforts to Protect a Fish
      > Wildlife: Nature group has sued U.S. officials to get the Santa Ana sucker
      > moved up onto endangered list.
      > By DEBORAH SCHOCH, Times Staff Writer
      > To naturalists, the small fish called the Santa Ana sucker is a living
      > relic
      > of the days when real rivers ran through the Los Angeles Basin.
      >      But today, long stretches of those rivers are encased in concrete,
      > and
      > the surrounding willows have been crowded out by condominiums and
      > freeways.
      > The sucker has been pushed inland to scattered outposts, its population
      > dramatically reduced.
      >      Now its survival may depend on a legal battle waged by fish advocates
      > who
      > hope to win the sucker protection under the Endangered Species Act.
      >      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking a new look at whether to
      > grant that protection, which environmentalists have sought since 1994. No
      > decision has been reached, but the fish's defenders hope their lawsuit
      > will
      > force the hand of federal officials soon.
      >      "Unfortunately, the only way to get their attention is to sue," said
      > Camm
      > C. Swift, a fish biologist and outgoing president of the regional chapter
      > of
      > the American Fisheries Society, a group of scientists that helped bring
      > suit
      > last year on behalf of the beleaguered sucker.
      >      What riles environmentalists the most is that federal experts
      > acknowledged in 1997 that the fish's dwindling numbers should earn it
      > federal
      > protection--but that more than 100 other species of West Coast wildlife
      > had a
      > higher priority for listing. The service has a major backlog of plants and
      > animals that are candidates for endangered species consideration. But with
      > limited staff, the agency is unable to do the research needed to determine
      > whether they warrant protection.
      >      "They said we're once again shuffling this to the bottom of their
      > deck.
      > They're saying there are other species that are facing larger threats or
      > more
      > imminent threats," said Claudia Polsky, an attorney at Earthjustice Legal
      > Defense Fund, an environmental law firm. The fund is defending the sucker
      > on
      > behalf of the Fisheries Society's California-Nevada chapter and California
      > Trout, a fish conservation group.
      >      She compared the sucker's treatment to a hospital's leaving a patient
      > bleeding in a waiting room. "The issue," she said, "is that the agency has
      > conducted its triage improperly."
      >      But federal officials concluded last year that the fish was less
      > endangered than some other plants and animals, especially since a number
      > of
      > the fish live on federal land in the Angeles National Forest.
      >      "Urban development is not as serious a threat to these populations,
      > so
      > the service has concluded that the species will not face extinction if
      > recovery is temporarily postponed while listings of higher-priority
      > species
      > occur," service officials said then.
      >      The Santa Ana sucker is an unlikely icon for wildlife activists. It
      > lacks
      > the notoriety of the northwest salmon, the glamour of rare wolves and
      > jaguars.
      > Its name is more likely to inspire jokes than public sympathy.
      >      The freshwater fish was considered common as recently as the 1970s,
      > federal records show. But today it is found only in four main spots in
      > Southern California, driven inland by concrete river channels, dams and
      > other
      > development.
      >      "The habitat has been totally wiped out for most sections of the
      > streams," said John Nuss, a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist. "Where
      > the
      > habitat is destroyed, the fish isn't there."
      >      Today, the sucker's stronghold is the headwaters of the San Gabriel
      > River
      > in and near the Angeles National Forest. It still lives in some sections
      > of
      > its namesake, the Santa Ana River, from Riverside downstream to the Yorba
      > Linda area of Orange County. More of the splotched, silvery fish can be
      > found
      > along lower Big Tujunga Creek in the Tujunga area, as well as farther
      > north in
      > the Santa Clara River.
      >      The case is expected to be heard by a federal district court judge in
      > San
      > Francisco late this year or in early 1999.
      > * * *
      >      Santa Ana Sucker (Catostomus santannae)
      >      * Description: Small to medium in size, with large, thick lips and
      > small
      > mouth used to vacuum algae and invertebrates from riverbeds and streams.
      >      * Lifespan: Two to three years.
      >      * Preferred habitat: Clear, cool rocky pools and creeks; small to
      > medium
      > rivers.
      >      * Historic range: Once common in Los Angeles, San Gabriel and Santa
      > Ana
      > River drainages and in small, shallow freshwater streams.
      >      * Current range: Headwaters of San Gabriel River system, Big Tujunga
      > Creek in the Los Angeles River Basin, portions of the Santa Ana River, and
      > parts of the Santa Clara River system in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
      >      * Decline caused by: Water diversions, dams, extreme alterations of
      > stream channels, erosion, debris, torrents, pollution, heavy recreational
      > use
      > of waterways. Also, nonnative species that prey on suckers and compete for
      > habitat.
      >       Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
      > Copyright 1998 Los Angeles Times. All Rights Reserved


      List Site: http://www.findmail.com/list/la-river-discuss/
      To unsubscribe, send to la-river-discuss-unsubscribe@...

      FREE group e-mail lists at http://www.findmail.com
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.