Senator’s Plan Would Move Endangered Fish to Wetter Habitat

The New Mexico habitat of the silvery minnow, an endangered fish, too often goes dry, so Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) has come up with an unusual plan: relocate the fish to wetter territory. The minnow, which lives primarily in the Rio Grande River south of Albuquerque, has been the subject of substantial controversy because when the river gets low, water is diverted from towns and farmers to sustain the species’ habitat. Domenici wants to turn that equation on its head and move the fish upstream where there are more consistent flows. “We should bring the minnow to the water instead of the water to the minnow,” he said. Interior Secretary Gale Norton said yesterday that the department would consider Domenici’s proposed scheme. As if that weren’t enough upheaval for the minnow, the Bush administration has proposed cutting funding for restoration of the species’ habitat by about two-thirds, from some $14.5 million this year to about $5 million next year.