On February 26, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposed rule to delist the Borax Lake chub (Gila boraxobius), a small fish that currently resides primarily in a single Oregon lake. Currently listed as an endangered species, the proposed rule states that the best available scientific and commercial information “indicates that the threats to the Borax Lake chub have been eliminated or reduced to the point where the species no longer meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act . . . .” The Federal Register notice states that the Service will accept comments on the proposed rule that are received or postmarked on or before April 29, 2019.
Borax Lake, the chub’s primary habitat, is a geothermally heated, alkaline spring-fed lake. The chub was the subject of an emergency listing in 1980. The emergency listing was prompted by proposed geothermal development in and around Borax Lake, and human modification of the lake, all of which threatened the chub’s survival. After the emergency listing ended, the Service formally listed the Borax Lake chub as an endangered species in 1980.
While delisting proposals are often contentious, the Borax Lake chub’s proposed delisting has been met with approval by some environmental groups who are touting the proposed delisting as another ESA success story. (See Center for Biological Diversity, Tiny Oregon Fish Recovered by Endangered Species Act, dated Feb. 25, 2019.)