Cache la Poudre River: Will the Arapahoe snowfly end up on the endangered species list?


From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday that the snowfly is worthy of protection under the Endangered Species Act, but the agency’s other priorities preclude it from doing so immediately.

Instead of being listed as an endangered species right away, the species will be added to the list of possible species to be added to a queue of species waiting to be considered for endangered status, something that will be reviewed each year.

The snowfly was first discovered in 1986 in Young Gulch in Roosevelt National Forest, one of only two places on earth the snowfly is thought to exist. The other is Elkhorn Creek, about five miles from Young Gulch.

Scientists consider the snowfly an “indicator” species, the health of which is a sign of the overall health of the Poudre Canyon ecosystem…

[Colorado State University entomology professor Boris C. Kondratieff] said if the species is listed, the entire Young Gulch and Elkhorn Creek watersheds would have to be protected, but how that would be done would require more study.

More coverage from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit County Citizens Voice:

The species was first discovered in 1986 in Young Gulch, a small tributary of the Cache la Poudre River in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

It is a small, dark‑colored insect with both a body length and wing length of about 0.2 inches. In 1988, it was identified as a new species. It was also found in a second tributary, Elkhorn Creek, approximately five miles from Young Gulch.

No other populations have been found in searches of nearby tributaries, and numerous visits to Young Gulch since the species’ discovery in 1986 have failed to locate additional specimens. Thus, the Service believes the species is extirpated from Young Gulch and currently only occurs in Elkhorn Creek.

The status review identified threats to the species including the potential present and future threat of habitat modification caused by climate change; the lack of adequate regulatory mechanisms to protect the species from impacts due to climate change; and its small population size (only one known population with few individuals documented).

More Arapahoe snowfly coverage here.

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