Conservation groups seeking an emergency endangered species listing for Arapahoe Snowfly

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

The high volume of dogs, hikers and cyclists who trample and defecate in the snowfly’s habitat in Young Gulch and grazing and resort effluent in Elkhorn Creek have driven the snowfly nearly to extinction, claim the petitioners, who include CSU professor entomology Boris C. Kondratieff. Elkhorn Creek is the snowfly’s only known habitat, but early last decade, scientists spotted the snowfly in Young Gulch, too, where it still might exist. In the petition, the conservationists worry that a planned trail system for the Elkhorn Creek drainage will help pollute the creek and kill the last remaining snowflies.

Nicole Rosmarino of the WildEarth Guardians said Tuesday that it normally takes about two years for the government to include a threatened species on the endangered species list, but the snowfly is so close to extinction that it doesn’t have that long to wait. An emergency listing, she said, could force the U.S. Forest Service, which manages Young Gulch and Elkhorn Creek, to crack down on sources of water pollution, including dogs defecating in the stream in Young Gulch…

Through time, listing the snowfly as endangered would force the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service to take a hard look at what kind of recreation they permit in the two canyons while keeping the survival of the snowfly in mind, Rosmarino said…

The plight of the snowfly, she said, is really the plight of the Poudre River. Scientists consider the snowfly an “indicator” species, which is a harbinger of the overall health of the Poudre River watershed ecosystem. As goes the snowfly, so goes the Poudre River and the region’s water quality, they say. “The snowfly is a small insect that needs fast, cold, clear, clean streams to survive, and unfortunately, the two streams it’s known from are being impacted by everything from cattle grazing to too much recreation to septic tank pollution,” said Scott Black, a former Colorado State University student who is now the director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in Portland, Ore.

More coverage from The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

Jon Monson, director of the city of Greeley Water and Sewer Department, said he had not heard of the filing. “We try to support the environment, because we live in it. But I have not heard of this and don’t know at this time if it will have any effect on the expansion of the Milton Seaman Reservoir,” Monson said. The city-owned reservoir is north of the Poudre River in the canyon northwest of Fort Collins and the city has long-range plans to enlarge that facility, which provides drinking water for Greeley.

Brian Werner, spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which is administering the building of the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project that includes reservoirs off the Poudre River and northeast of Greeley, said the survey would have no effect on those projects because the insects are upstream from the Glade Reservoir site.

The Xerces Society claimed the species — sometimes called winter stoneflies — is threatened by habitat damage from intensive recreation, livestock grazing, timbering projects, stream de-watering, insecticide application close to water bodies connected to Elkhorn Creek, sedimentation and runoff from roads and trails, and effluent from residential and destination resort septic systems.

More endangered/threatened species coverage here.

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