Endangered Nevada Toad Could Have a Massive Impact on Federal Wildlife Laws

by Megan Molseed
(Getty Images/Jason Edwards)

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has made a move to temporarily list the Dixie Valley toad as an endangered wildlife species. This move comes as the officials declare the Dixie Valley toad to be endangered on an emergency basis. While construction is underway for a Nevada geothermal plant site.

The Latest Ruling To Protect Nevada Toad Is A Major Move Similar To A 50-Year-Old Ruling Spawned By Similar Concerns

This latest ruling is setting the stage in Nevada for a test that could have significant impacts on wildlife protection agencies. The move comes in response to a legal battle regarding a Nevada geothermal power plant. Furthermore, this case has some major similarities to another case that set some big precedents nearly 50 years ago. That particular case features the snail darter and the construction of a Tennesse dam.

The decades-old case was a 1978 ruling is one that came down just a few short years after then-President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger spoke of this ruling at the time. In this statement, Burger noted the survival of this small snail darter is important to the area. Important enough to halt construction on a major dam.

“It may seem curious to some,” Burger said of the 1978 ruling,

“That the survival of a relatively small number of three-inch fish among all the countless millions of species extant would require the permanent halting of a virtually completed dam,” the Supreme Court Justice continues. “For which Congress has expended more than $100 million.”

However, Burger noted, the “explicit provisions of the Endangered Species Act require precisely that result.”

The Dixie Valley Toad Protections Are Similar To The 1978 Ruling

The area Fish and Wildlife Service officials declared this Dixie Valley toad to be, temporarily, an endangered species earlier this year. This is only the second time the Fish and Wildlife Service officials have taken this action. The reason for this move, the officials cite are potential threats posed by the water-pumping geothermal plant.

According to officials, the impact left by the 1978 snail darter ruling is helping push through these latest protections. The rulings protecting the Dixie Valley toad. The emergency order comes as experts discovered late into the process the adverse effects construction was having on the species.

“The case is analogous to (that case),” officials note.

“Where it was discovered late into the construction of a $100 million federal dam project that completing and operating the dam would eradicate a rare species of minnow,” the statement adds.

Last week a judge granted an extension request from the Bureau of Land Management and the wildlife officials to officially turn in their responses.