A little fish that’s mighty as a mountain

Pupfish Peak in Nevada’s Amargosa Valley is named for the endangered Devils Hole pupfish.


Newly named Pupfish Peak is a high point in an area known as Devils Hole Hills on land managed by the BLM.

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In the spring of 2016, three Nevada men got drunk, broke into a gated enclosure guarding a deep limestone cavern, and plunged into the warm water of Devils Hole, a unit managed by the National Park Service. One of the skinny-dippers, Trent Sargent, while trampling the fish’s only habitat, killed one of the tiny, rare Devils Hole pupfish, which were among the first creatures listed as endangered in 1967. Sargent was sentenced to a year of prison for violating the Endangered Species Act (“How a tiny endangered species put a man in prison,” 4/15/19).

In early November, the Domestic Names Committee of the U.S. Board of Geographic Names voted unanimously to name a peak in Nevada’s Amargosa Valley, outside of Death Valley National Park, for the endangered Devils Hole and the Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfishes. Pupfish Peak “will serve to remind people to be stewards of important landscapes and treasures within Nevada,” the National Park Service wrote in a statement. Even though there aren’t any pupfish at the top of the 4,355-foot peak, climbers “can overlook their habitat, marvel over the tenacity of fish.” In the last official count, the Devils Hole pupfish population reached 136 — up from an all-time low of 35 in 2013.  

Paige Blankenbuehler is an associate editor for High Country News. She oversees coverage of the Southwest, Great Basin and the Borderlands from her home in Durango, Colorado. Email her at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor

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