A new lawsuit alleges federal officials have been dragging their feet on deciding whether the Virgin River minnow and eight other species deserve protection under the Endangered Species Act.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service missed its deadline to issue a decision regarding the spinedace by more than three years, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court March 16.The silvery minnow is found in the muddy Virgin River and its various tributaries“Virgin River spinedace have been denied Endangered Species Act protections for far too long,” said Tanya Sanerib, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, the environmental group that filed the suit. “Protecting the spinedace from extinction will also help safeguard the health of Utah’s waterways for people and wildlife.”But Utah’s wildlife officials have adamantly opposed such a move, arguing that the CBD is misinterpreting survey data and that an existing multi-agency management program called the Virgin Spinedace Conservation Agreement and Strategy (VSCAS) has already been a success.Ron Thompson, general manager at the Washington County Water Conservancy District, argued the lawsuit has little validity regarding the spinedace, which has seen its habitat improve steadily for two decades under a local protection agreement.“It doesn’t make much sense to… Read full this story
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