NANFA-- Klamath sucker --> Rio Grande minnow

Christopher Scharpf (
Fri, 13 Jul 2001 18:38:15 -0400

> I sympathize with the families in the basin who can't raise crops in a
> drought like this year. They and their families accepted the land back then
> in good faith, and it was given to them in the same good faith, thinking
> they'd always have water. But it's humorous and hypocritical to me that
> here we have a community of people screaming about government intervention
> (protecting endangered species) while they themselves have been the
> recipients of government handouts of land and water for decades.

This reminds me of what's going on with the Rio Grande silvery minnow
(Hybognathus amarus) in New Mexico. Farmers are at the receiving end of a
huge federally funded network of diversion dams and irrigation ditches, yet
cry bloody murder when the feds want to use some of the water to keep the
middle Rio Grande from running dry and killing the minnow. Yes, the water is
rightfully theirs, but why can't they share? Why must they be entitled to
every single last drop of it? Why is it necessary to attempt to squeeze in a
third end-of-summer crop in the middle of a drought? The situation got so
ugly at one point that a few really angry farmers threatened with violence
the federal biologists who were rescuing minnows that were stranded in
drying pools! A 3-year agreement between feds and the State was signed a few
weeks ago, but it doesn't guarantee that the Rio Grande won't run dry. It
merely guarantees that it won't run dry as quickly! Luckily, federal
biologists will continue monitoring the river from airplanes looking for
stranded minnows, and send in minnow rescue teams when needed. And the
Albuquerque Aquarium is raising the minnow for reintroduction in the few
sections of the river that aren't completely diverted to irrigate hay and
alfalfa in the middle of the desert.

Chris Scharpf

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