Protection sought for Southern California fish species

California

This undated photo provided by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service shows Santa Ana speckled dace fish. In response to a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday, June 16, 2021 that the Santa Ana speckled dace, a small minnow native to Southern California streams, may qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act. (Paul Barrett/United States Fish and Wildlife Service via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A tiny fish native to Southern California streams will be studied to determine if it qualifies for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, a conservation group said Wednesday.

The Center for Biological Diversity said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will begin a status review of the Santa Ana speckled dace in response to a petition filed by the group last year.

The minnow is found in the Santa Ana, San Jacinto, San Gabriel and Los Angeles river systems.

According to the center, dams, water diversions and urbanization have eliminated Santa Ana speckled dace from three-quarters of their former stream habitats and they face continuing threats including drought, fires, invasive species and climate change.

“Endangered Species Act protections would provide a welcome lifeline as Santa Ana speckled dace try to survive climate chaos and other threats,” Jeff Miller, a center senior conservation advocate, said in a statement.

Remaining small populations of the species are now mostly in headwater tributaries within national forests where they prefer perennial streams fed by cool springs with overhanging vegetation and shallow gravel beds for spawning.

The center also said Fish and Wildlife will review the status of the southern San Joaquin Valley’s Temblor legless lizard.

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