More than one pupfish per smile

 

Thanks to Laura Pritchett (“Laughter, America, Death Valley,” HCN, 2/5/18) and her sweetheart, Kevin, for paying homage to laughter, sorrow and native desert fishes. Death Valley’s pupfish species set an especially good example for us in these dark and heated times: They keep swimming even when the water in the tub is trickling down the drain and what’s left behind is hot, salty, silty or predatory.

However, Death Valley National Park and nearby desert wetlands host more than one endangered species and subspecies of pupfish that exist “nowhere else on the planet.” The national park alone provides intermittently drying shelter for at least two species and four subspecies of pupfishes. East of the park, a private landowner, state and federal biologists, and a small nonprofit have helped paddle the Shoshone pupfish back from the dry edge of disaster. Also east of the park, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge (where Pritchett likely saw “little blue flashes in the deep pool”) shelters two pupfish species and three subspecies, all endangered. Amargosa River pupfish still dart through the Amargosa River almost all the way to Badwater in Death Valley National Park. Tecopa pupfish, which also lived east of the park, are gone forever. They’re the first animal to be removed from the endangered species list due to extinction. 

The upshot, for Laura and Kevin, is an invitation to come back and admire more pupfish species — the West isn’t lost, not yet, and not for pupfishes. It’s just a bit broken. The upshot for all of us is that we’re still surrounded by tiny, irreplaceable animals that perform astounding acts of survival every day. We owe it to them not only to laugh in the face of despair, but also to do our best to oppose bad jokes being fobbed off as government (e.g., suppression of climate change data, rollbacks of the collaborative Greater Sage Grouse Conservation Plan and Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan) so we can all continue to co-exist, even when we’re up to our dorsal fins in hot water.

Ceal Klingler
Bishop, California

High Country News Classifieds
  • CROWN OF THE CONTINENT COMMUNITY CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
    THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY is seeking a Community Conservation Specialist, for the Crown of the Continent DEPARTMENT: Conservation CLASSIFICATION: Grade 6 Specialist/Representative (Low of $54K) REPORTS...
  • ASSISTANT FARM DIRECTOR
    About The Organization Building community through fresh vegetables is at the heart of the Sisters-based non-profit, Seed to Table Oregon. Based on a four-acre diversified...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, Hike the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...
  • DYNAMIC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    VARD is seeking an Executive Director to lead a small legal & planning staff dedicated to the health and sustainability of Teton Valley Idaho and...
  • WATER PROJECT MANAGER, UPPER SAN PEDRO (ARIZONA)
    Based in Tucson or Sierra Vista, AZ., the Upper San Pedro Project Manager develops, manages, and advances freshwater conservation programs, plans, and methods focusing on...
  • CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
    Southeast Alaska Conservation is hiring. Visit https://www.seacc.org/about/hiring for info. 907-586-6942 [email protected]
  • FINANCE & GRANTS MANAGER
    The Blackfoot Challenge, located in Ovando, MT, seeks a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to conduct bookkeeping, financial analysis and reporting, and grant oversight and management. Competitive...
  • WADE LAKE CABINS, CAMERON MT
    A once in a lifetime opportunity to live and run a business on the shore of one of the most beautiful lakes in SW Montana....
  • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BOOKS, CULTURE AND COMMENTARY (PART-TIME, CONTRACT)
    High Country News is seeking a Contributing Editor for Books, Culture and Commentary to assign and edit inquisitive, inspiring, and thought-provoking content for HCN in...
  • STATEWIDE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    ABOUT US Better Wyoming is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes Wyoming residents on behalf of statewide change. Learn more at...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    TwispWorks is a 501(c)3 that promotes economic and cultural vitality in the mountainous Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to North Cascades National Park in Washington...
  • CLEAN ENERGY ADVOCATE OR DIRECTOR
    Location: Helena, Montana Type: Permanent, full time after 1-year probationary period. Reports to: Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Travel: Some overnight travel, both in-state...
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Restore Hetch Hetchy, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, seeks experienced development professional to identify and engage individuals and institutions who are inspired to help underwrite...
  • PUBLIC LANDS COUNSEL
    The successful candidate will be the organization's lead counsel on public lands issues, including reviewing federal administrative actions and proposed policy and helping to shape...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR
    Solar Energy International (SEI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit education organization with a mission to provide industry-leading technical training and expertise in renewable energy to empower...
  • TRAINING MANAGER
    This is a full-time position based out of our Paonia office. This position is responsible for organizing all of Solar Energy International's renewable energy trainings....
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!