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UNR Biologist: 'Endangered' Listing Not Only Option For Dixie Valley Toad


Photo by Patrick Donnelly, Center for Biological Diversity

Dixie Valley toad

Three new toad species have been found this year in Nevada.

One of them, the Dixie Valley Toad, faces a potential threat from proposed geothermal development. The Center for Biological Diversity is trying to get the toad onto the endangered species list to defend it from the project that would encroach upon its habitat in the Great Basin.

Professor C. Richard Tracy teaches in the biology department and conducts environmental research for the University of Nevada Reno. His team found and wrote about the Dixie Valley Toad, along with the other two recently-revealed species.

“One toad just happens to be a in valley where there are hot springs. This particular toad has been in that valley for 650,000 years – long before humans were human. So, it belongs there,” Tracy told KNPR's State of Nevada.

Tracy said when the power company that is planning to build at the springs in Dixie Valley built a plant in nearby valley drying up a hot springs there. If the springs where the Dixie Valley toad lives dry up the toad will become extinct.

He said the easy solution would be to stop the power plant. He noted it was a relatively small plant and stopping construction wouldn't sacrifice much power.

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The second option would be to re-establish the toads in another part of the valley using artisanal wells. When the toad is in a secure population, the plant could be built. That plan could take several years.

“It’s not easy to say that’s what we should do but if we care about the toad, I don’t know what the alternative is,” Tracy said.

Tracy said the Dixie Valley toad is a full species not a variant of another type of toad. If the toad becomes extinct that is it, because it only exists in this one tiny marsh in Nevada.

“Then we lose a species. The fact is the people of the United States have decided that they care about species that’s why we have an endangered species act,” he said.

The Bureau of Land Management is looking at options for the toad and the power plant. 


Richard Tracy, PhD., professor/researcher, University of Nevada Reno Department of Biology

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