Dixie Valley toad gets rare emergency protection

5 years after its discovery, the amphibian is now protected from a geothermal development.

 

The entire population of Dixie Valley toads live in a thermal spring-fed wetland in a remote Nevada valley.

Want to catch up on big developments quickly? See more stories here.

BACKSTORY
In 2017, researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno introduced the public to three formerly unknown species of toad: the Dixie Valley toad, the Railroad Valley toad and the Hot Creek toad. It was an exciting find: The last time a new species of toad was discovered north of Mexico was over half a century ago. The recently discovered toads live one of the driest parts of the country, inhabiting a small oasis in northern Nevada.

The amphibians enjoyed relative isolation for over 650,000 years. Then, Ormat Nevada Inc. proposed building the Dixie Meadows Geothermal Utilization Project. The breeding habitat of the Dixie Valley toad was directly in the crosshairs of the energy company’s machinery — and researchers said the impact of this on the rare amphibians could be “devastating” (Recently discovered toad species already face threats, 7/26/17).

FOLLOWUP
In an unusual emergency move in early April, the U.S. government temporarily declared the Dixie Valley toad endangered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has the power to “emergency list” species — something it has only done twice before — said Ormat’s geothermal plant “poses a significant risk to the well-being of the Dixie Valley toad.”

While Ormat Nevada Inc. has promised that it will coordinate with agencies to protect the toad and insists that its proposed development will eventually go forward, Fish and Wildlife experts doubt the company’s plans, stating, “The degree of confidence in the ability to mitigate environmental impacts of the project was even lower,” according to reporting from E&E.

The emergency listing is only temporary while the wildlife agency begins the longer process to decide if the toad warrants a full endangered species listing.

Theo Whitcomb is an editorial intern at High Country News. We welcome reader letters. Email him a [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor. See our letters to the editor policy.

High Country News Classifieds
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE: NEAR CHRICAHUA NATIONAL PARK
    2 (20 acre sites): 110 miles from Tucson:AZ Native trees: Birder's heaven: dark skies: Creek: borders State lease & National forest: /13-16 inches of rain...
  • DIRECTOR - SONORAN DESERT INN & CONFERENCE CENTER
    The Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center is a non-profit lodging and event venue in Ajo, Arizona, located on the historic Curley School Campus. We...
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Field Seminars for adults: cultural and natural history of the Colorado Plateau. With guest experts, local insights, small groups, and lodge or base camp formats....
  • PLANNED GIVING OFFICER
    National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation's oldest and largest national parks nonprofit advocacy organization seeks a Planned Giving Officer. Do you find energy in...
  • DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    The Methow Valley Citizens Council has a distinguished history of advocating for progressive land use and environmental values in the Methow Valley and Okanogan County...
  • ACTING INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS DESK EDITOR
    High Country News is seeking an Acting Indigenous Affairs Editor to oversee the work of our award-winning Indigenous Affairs Desk while our editor is on...
  • GRANTS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Cinnabar Foundation seeks an enthusiastic, team-oriented and knowledgeable Grants Program Director to work from their home in Montana. Established in 1983, the Cinnabar Foundation...
  • ARTEMIS PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Artemis Program Manager will work with National Wildlife Federation sporting and public lands staff to change this dynamic, continue to build upon our successful...
  • ALASKA SEA KAYAK BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Well-known and successful sea kayak, raft, hike, camp guiding & water taxi service. Sale includes everything needed to run the business, including office & gear...
  • MEMBERSHIP AND EVENTS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a detail-oriented and enthusiastic Membership and Events Coordinator to join our small, but mighty-fun team to oversee our membership...
  • PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT FACILITATOR
    ABOUT THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM Since opening in 1982, HIGH DESERT MUSEUM has brought together wildlife, culture, art and natural resources to promote an understanding...
  • LAND STEWARD, ARAVAIPA
    Steward will live on-site in housing provided by TNC and maintains preserve areas frequented by the visiting public and performs land management activities. The Land...
  • DEVELOPMENT WRITER
    Who We Are: The Nature Conservancy's mission is to protect the lands and waters upon which all life depends. As a science-based organization, we create...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Driggs, ID based non-profit. Full time. Full job description available at tvtap.org. Submit cover letter and resume to [email protected]
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • SPRING MOUNTAINS SOLAR OFF GRID MOUNTAIN HOME
    Located 50 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada in the pine forest of Lee Canyon at 8000 feet elevation. One of a kind property surrounded...
  • MAJOR GIFTS MANAGER - MOUNTAIN WEST, THE CONSERVATION FUND
    Cultivate, solicit and steward a portfolio of 75-125 donors.
  • NATURE'S BEST IN ARAVAIPA CANYON
    10 acre private oasis in one of Arizona's beautiful canyons. Fully furnished, 2123 sq ft architectural custom-built contemporary home with spectacular views and many extras....
  • HEALTH FOOD STORE IN NW MONTANA
    Turn-key business includes 2500 sq ft commercial building in main business district of Libby, Montana. 406.293.6771 /or [email protected]
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.