August 3, 2005
It has been more than fifty years since the endangered Rio Grande silvery
minnow inhabited the river in the Big Bend region. The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service (Service) is working with the people of Texas to determine
if reintroducing the silvery minnow to this reach of the Rio Grande holds
potential for improving the species' future.
The Service is asking residents, state, county, and local officials,
landowners, farmers, recreationists and others to comment on its proposal
to reintroduce experimental populations of the small fish that once
inhabited the entire river. Three scoping meetings are scheduled to receive
input from residents. All meetings start with an informational session at
5:30 p.m. The formal meeting begins at 7 p.m. with a presentation followed
by people giving comments, suggestions or recommendations.
-- September 20 in Sanderson at the Sanderson Community Meeting Hall, 108
-- September 21 in Alpine at the Sul Ross State University, Gallego Center,
Room 129, East Highway 90
-- September 22 in Presidio at the Presidio Activity Center, 1400 East
The Endangered Species Act encourages experimental reintroductions as a way
to help recover a species while keeping federal regulations to a minimum.
"We believe the long-term survival and recovery of this species can be
better secured by establishing experimental populations under section 10(j)
of the Endangered Species Act within the fish's historical range," said
Larry Bell, Acting Deputy Director of the Service's Southwest Region.
"Under this scenario, we have much more flexibility in working with the
community to manage experimental populations so that current and future
land or water uses and activities should not be restricted while helping to
recover the fish."
The Service will be preparing a draft Environmental Assessment to look at
the potential impacts of reintroducing endangered fish into the Rio Grande.
We have scheduled information sessions and public scoping meetings in
Presidio, Alpine, and Sanderson to receive input from residents. People can
also provide written comments. The deadline for all comments is October 7
(please note this date has been corrected from Sept. 9). Information
received by the deadline will be used to explore a range of approaches to
reintroducing experimental populations of the minnow. When complete, the
Environmental Assessment will be available for public review and comment.
The notice was published in today's Federal Register and is available on
the internet at http://ifw2es.fws.gov/NewMexico/. To request a paper copy
or a compact disc of the proposal, please call (505) 761-4710, or write or
visit the field office at 2105 Osuna NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87113,
during business hours.
The Rio Grande silvery minnow was historically one of the most abundant and
widespread fishes in the Rio Grande Basin, occurring from Espaņola, New
Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico, but now only survives in a 170-mile stretch
in New Mexico.