Las Vegas Sun

July 22, 2014

Currently: 103° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

LOOKING IN ON: ENVIRONMENT:

Trout species still threatened, U.S. finds

Last week offered a mixed bag for Nevada fish, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the Bonneville cutthroat trout does not warrant protection by the Endangered Species Act but the Lahontan cutthroat trout does.

The Lahontan cutthroat has been protected as a threatened species since 1970 and could have been removed only because it had become extinct or had recovered, or because of an error in the original listing.

An organization called Dynamic Action on Wells Group had petitioned Fish and Wildlife to remove the Lahontan cutthroat from the list, but the agency found there was no evidence the trout had recovered.

The Lahontan cutthroat lives in five Nevada lakes — Pyramid, Walker, Fallen Leaf, Summit and Independence. It is the state fish of Nevada, and fishermen once caught them as large as 41 pounds.

The Bonneville cutthroat trout is found primarily in Utah and Wyoming but also swims in Nevada and Idaho in the Bonneville Basin.

In 2001, the service determined the Bonneville cutthroat was not endangered or likely to become endangered because populations of the fish could be found throughout its historical territory. According to a release, the service undertook this latest status update voluntarily, considering new information from a report by the Bonneville Cutthroat Trout Conservation Team, and still found the fish was not endangered.

•••

After a screening of “Fighting Goliath,” a movie about fighting coal plant construction narrated by Robert Redford, a few hundred environmentally minded Las Vegans caucused with Nevada political leaders on how they, too, could defeat coal plant proposals here.

One official said she thinks the death blow may have been dealt — not by environmentalists but by rising costs of coal, construction and power plant components.

State Treasurer Kate Marshall compared Sierra Pacific Resources’ proposal to build a coal plant that could cost as much as $8 billion near Ely to the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

“We’re all here at the party, but the coal plant is dead,” Marshall said after the screening Tuesday.

•••

Pat Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, has been outspoken on climate change — that it’s happening now and that it’s more likely than not to wreak havoc on the valley’s water supply.

But now the Water Authority is looking for a new point person on climate change, a senior policy analyst, even. At a salary of $100,126 a year, this climate-change expert will monitor the latest research on global warming as well as the latest methods of fighting and mitigating it, and analyze what effect it will have on Southern Nevada. The expert also will represent the authority at meetings on climate change.

“There is a lot of research being conducted by scientists around the world related to climate change. A portion of that research is focused on the implications for water supplies,” authority spokesman J.C. Davis said. “We need someone who is technically proficient in this area to sift through the huge ... body of research (and) identify ... implications for Southern Nevada.”

The analyst will look at studies on precipitation in the Southwest and what the findings will mean for ground water systems.

Davis said the authority is one of eight large water utilities participating in the Water Utility Climate Alliance, which is developing strategies to offset the expected effects of climate change on water resources.

Climate change neophytes need not apply. The authority is looking for a candidate with a doctorate in atmospheric science, hydrology, environmental science or a closely related field or equivalent experience and training.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy