Author: Damien M. Schiff
Last Friday, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed two Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuits concerning two Sacramento Delta species. One lawsuit challenges the failure of the United States Fish and Wildife Service to respond to a CBD petition to uplist the currently "threatened" Delta smelt to endangered status under the ESA. The second lawsuit challenges the Service’s denial of a petition to list the Sacramento Delta population of the longfin smelt.
The longfin smelt suit is of interest because the proferred basis for listing the longfin smelt is that the Sacramento Delta population of the species constitutes a "distinct population segment," separately listable under the ESA. Specifically, CBD contends that the Sacramento Delta longfin smelt is both distinct from other populations of longfin smelt found up the Pacific Northwest coast, and is biologically significant to the longfin smelt as a whole.
The California Fish and Game Commission has listed both species of smelt under the California Endangered Species Act.