Feds say Poudre Canyon snowfly could get endangered species protection

By: Bob Magill, Coloradoan
April 25, 2011

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday the Araphahoe snowfly, found only in two tributaries of the Poudre Canyon, could be rare and endangered enough to protect under the Endangered Species Act.

WildEarth Guardians and other environmental groups asked the FWS a year ago to consider listing the snowfly on the Endangered Species List.

The agency said in a statement Monday it will begin a thorough review of the snowfly’s vitality to determine whether it should be protected as an endangered species.

The snowfly was first discovered in 1986 in Young Gulch and later in Elkhorn Creek.

Nicole Rosmarino of the WildEarth Guardians said last year dogs should be kept on leashes Young Gulch to help prevent them from defecating in the stream where the snowfly reproduces.

Through time, listing the snowfly as endangered would force the U.S. Forest Service and the FWS to take a hard look at what kind of recreation they permit in the two canyons while keeping the survival of the snowfly in mind, Rosmarino said.

Scientists consider the snowfly an “indicator” species, which is a harbinger of the overall health of the Poudre River watershed ecosystem.

“The snowfly is a small insect that needs fast, cold, clear, clean streams to survive, and unfortunately, the two streams it’s known from are being impacted by everything from cattle grazing to too much recreation to septic tank pollution,” Scott Black, a former Colorado State University student who is now the director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in Portland, Ore., said last year.