Author: Reed Hopper
In the midst of controversy and ongoing litigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced recently that the delta smelt warrants listing as endangered rather than threatened, but the listing change would not take place anytime soon.
According to the Service, "based on accumulated scientific data, the delta smelt warrants uplisting from 'threatened' to 'endangered' under the Endangered Species Act but that uplisting at this time is precluded by the need to address higher priority species first. The Service will develop a proposed rule to reclassify this species as priorities allow."
The Service assured the public that the finding of “warranted but precluded” will have no practical effect on protections for the delta smelt, existing federal actions, or water flows in the delta smelt habitat.
Adding to the existing controversy over mitigation efforts that have decimated many California Central Valley farms, the Service admitted it "is still unable to determine with certainty which threats or combinations of threats are directly responsible for the decrease in delta smelt abundance."