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.

‘Poudre runs through it’ forum recap

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report:

Mary Lou Smith, a policy and collaboration specialist with the Water Institute, said the main message of the forum was to get people with diverse opinions about the region’s water future talking together. “The message was it’s important for us to look at the various values we bring to the table when we look at the future of the water supply in this area,” she said. “We said how can we work together? That really set the tone.”[…]

Smith said the purpose of the forum was not to push any particular agenda as to how the region’s future water needs should be met. One ongoing controversial water issue in the region is whether Glade Reservoir – a proposed new storage project- should be built just outside Poudre Canyon. Smith said Glade may or may not be part of the solution. “There’s a whole portfolio of solutions, including storage,” she said. “This isn’t about building Glade – it’s much broader than that. It’s about realizing there are trade-offs and helping the public better understand how water law works and forming educated opinions.”

Three more educational sessions are set to continue the discussion on Feb. 24, March 10 and March 24. All three will be held in the Larimer Courthouse, 200 W. Oak St., from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

More Cache la Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.

‘Poudre runs through it’ forum recap

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

More than 300 people turned out Thursday night at the Larimer County office building in Old Town to consider the best ways to keep the various future needs of Poudre River water from being fodder for a fight as part of a UniverCity Connections-sponsored series of public forums called “The Poudre Runs Through It: Northern Colorado’s Water Future.”

Author Laura Pritchett suggested people find “the radical center,” the place where those with sometimes drastically different ideas about the river can meet to civilly discuss their views and find solutions to the region’s water needs without fighting. The radical center, she said, should be that middle ground where people discover there isn’t just one solution for the water – either store it in Glade Reservoir or not at all. Those in the radical center, she said, seek to find a “portfolio” of solutions…

The fundamental threat to the Poudre River is urban growth, said Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University. “Much of the future water demand will be right here in the Front Range corridor,” he said. “We haven’t as a society decided if we want to control that growth yet.”[…]

Lynn Hall of Fort Collins said her biggest fear is losing the wildlife habitat along the Poudre River through the city. “To have a natural river with as much wildlife habitat as it has a few blocks from downtown is really a miracle,” she said. “We need to be really clear to figure out how we can make this accessible to humans, but not as an urban construction.”

The second part of the series of forums will be three education sessions scheduled for Feb. 24, March 10 and March 24 at the Larimer County office building, 200 W. Oak St. Those will be followed by two public dialogue sessions on April 11 and 16.

More coverage from the Rocky Mountain Collegian (Vashti Batjargal):

The public forum served as a place for residents to discuss the value the Poudre River holds and how water should be allocated to each of the region’s competing needs. “We have a fixed resource and it’s all about trade-off,” said Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute. “In everything we choose, we also choose not.”[…]

George Reed, owner of 62 acres of land 10 miles north of Fort Collins, said he’d like a reservoir. “We could learn a lesson from the squirrels: You have to put some water away,” Reed said. “I’ve never seen a reservoir I didn’t like.”[…]

The forum was designed to get community input for decisions on water distribution and conservation for growth and agricultural needs. CSU associate professor of history Mark Fiege said the decisions the community will ultimately make concerning water distribution will have an effect on future generations. “It will impose a burden and responsibility that we cannot fully predict,” he said.

More coverage from Bill Jackson writing for The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

The initial session turnout surprised organizers, but only a small percentage of the crowd offered public comment. Organizers, including UniverCity Connections, Colorado State University and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, collected comments from the crowd as they left. Those comments will be compiled and used at educational sessions later this year. MaryLou Smith, a policy and collaboration specialist with the CSU Colorado Water Institute, said the sessions were conceived as a city of Fort Collins event, but she realized, from the turnout, that other communities along the 126-mile stretch of the river should also be included.

Reagan Waskom, director of the water institute at CSU, said the Poudre River, as well as others in northern Colorado, face serious demands in the future. Much of those demands will come from expected growth along the Front Range. To meet those demands, he said, an additional 500,000 to 800,000 acre feet of water a year will be needed; an acre-foot of water is considered enough to supply two families with a year’s supply of water. The annual flow of the Poudre is about 275,000 acre feet…

Tom Moore is a local farmer and business owner who said cities in the area are willing to pay $10,000 an acre-foot for water. “It’s hard to put an agricultural value of one-third that,” he said, adding it is the quality of water in the region that draw people and businesses.

More Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.

Cache la Poudre River: Lawsuit to be filed by conservation groups over the Arapahoe snowfly

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

The environmental groups filed their petition with the Fish and Wildlife Service in April, but the agency did not make a decision about whether the snowfly was threatened enough for the service to consider protecting it. The Fish and Wildlife Service “gave the standard response: They have other things to do,” said Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians, who sent a letter to the agency Wednesday informing it that the environmental groups intend to sue if it doesn’t act within 60 days.

“They haven’t given us an indication of when they’ll come out with a finding,” Rosmarino said. “The only way to get the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue decisions on petitions is to go to court. This is the first step toward going to court over the Arapahoe snowfly.”

Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Diane Katzen-berger said the agency is working on its decision about the snowfly, and it is due to be published in the Federal Register in April. She said the agency is cash-strapped and short-staffed, and it hasn’t been able to get around to fully evaluating the snowfly’s status until recently.

More endangered/threatened species coverage here.

Cache la Poudre River: Lawsuit to be filed by conservation groups over the Arapahoe snowfly

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From email from Save the Poudre (Gary Wockner):

Today a coalition of citizens’ groups provided the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) with a formal written notice of the groups’ intent to sue the Agency over its failure to address the groups’ petition to list the Arapahoe Snowfly, an insect important for the ecological health of the Poudre River basin, as an endangered species. Snowflies (sometimes called winter stoneflies) require cool, clear rivers and streams to survive, which makes them excellent biological indicators of watershed health – the Poudre Watershed is the Arapahoe Snowfly’s only known place of existence on earth. The Arapahoe Snowfly is endangered by a host of environmental problems, including stream dewatering. Scientists and conservation groups believe the Snowfly is on the brink of extinction in the Poudre River ecosystem.

“Our organization’s mission is to protect and restore the Poudre River,” said Gary Wockner of Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper. “And that extends to every species living in the river. We believe the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is violating the Endangered Species Act by not addressing our petition to list the Arapahoe Snowfly.”

By law, when any person or group petitions the USFWS to list a species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the USFWS has 90 days to evaluate the petition and make a “finding.” The coalition of groups filed the petition on April 6, 2010 – the finding should have occurred by July 6, 2010. The Service is now nearly 5 months late.

“Unfortunately, these delays are all too common in our dealings with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Nicole Rosmarino, whose group WildEarth Guardians is leading the legal effort to list the Arapahoe Snowfly under the ESA. “While the USFWS has paid lip service to speeding up its ESA work, hundreds of species remain waiting for findings in the United States. The Arapahoe Snowfly simply cannot wait – we will continue to press the government to issue a finding on this species.”

There are now 251 species of plants and wildlife that are formal “candidates” awaiting federal listing. Many of these species have been on the waiting list for protection for a decade or more. Outside of Hawaii, only 4 new U.S. species have been listed under the Act since Interior Secretary Ken Salazar took office. At the current pace, it would take nearly a century to get through the backlog of candidate species in the continental U.S.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to act immediately,” said Scott Black of Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “The Poudre River ecosystem cannot afford to lose the Arapahoe Snowfly – we can’t allow the Snowfly to go extinct.”

Co-signing the NOI are all of the groups that originally filed the petition, including: The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation , an international nonprofit scientific organization dedicated to protecting wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat; Dr. Boris Kondratieff , a Colorado State University entomologist and expert in aquatic insects who discovered the Arapahoe Snowfly; Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper , an organization that works to protect and restore the Cache la Poudre River; Cache la Poudre River Foundation , an organization founded for the protection of Wild Trout through the town of Fort Collins, Colorado; WildEarth Guardians , which protects and restores wildlife, wild rivers and wild places in the American West; and Center for Native Ecosystems , a group dedicated to protecting native species and their habitats in the Rocky Mountain Region.

The Notice of Intent (NOI) to sue is publicly posted here:

Read the petition.

Read more about the Arapahoe snowfly.

More coverage from the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams):

A coalition of environmental and citizen activist groups today filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for failing to act on a petition to list the Arapahoe Snowfly – native to the Poudre River basin in northern Colorado – as an endangered species. The snowfly, also called winter snowflies, are only found in the Poudre watershed, but are seen by conservationists as an “indicator species’ indicative of the overall biological health of watershed. The groups planning to sue the USFWS cite scientists who feel the snowfly is on the brink of extinction, an indication the Poudre is succumbing to mounting pressure from a variety of users.

More endangered/threatened species coverage here.

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.