The O. Zone

Suing to protect the Arapahoe snowfly

By David O. Williams
Real AspenNovember 30, 2010
The rare Arapahoe snowfly has only been found in two drainages of the Poudre River, northwest of Fort Collins.
Dr. Boris Kondratieff, Colorado State University

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.

“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.”

According to a Save the Poudre press release, the coalition petitioned the USFWS for listing on April 6, which meant the federal agency then had 90 days to evaluate and make a finding. That would have been July 6, but there still has been no action.

“Unfortunately, these delays are all too common in our dealings with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians, which is leading the legal effort. “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.”


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