Pipeline a threat to our natural heritage

To the editor:

An editorial in Thursday’s Review-Journal speculated that the only reason that the Center for Biological Diversity and others are seeking protections for 32 species of springsnails is to stop the proposed Southern Nevada Water Authority groundwater pipeline.

Such is not the case.

If the pipeline could be constructed and operated so as to not wreak environmental havoc, the center would have no cause to oppose it.

This is not the case.

More than 310 springs, 125 miles of year-round streams, 8,000 acres of wetlands and 192,000 acres of sage and other shrublands will be severely damaged or destroyed by the impact from the groundwater pumping. The very natural heritage of Nevada and the Great Basin is under attack by this project. Not only would the 32 species of springsnails be destroyed, sage grouse, rare desert fish and even iconic game species such as mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep would be devastated. Beyond a doubt, some species would go extinct.

These springsnails have been on this landscape for thousands of years, playing a vital role in improving water quality by consuming decaying matter and algae. They’re also an important food source for fish, birds and amphibians.

Bottom line: Even though they’re hard to spot, they have intrinsic value in the places they live.

The mission of the center is to work through science, law and advocacy to be a voice for rare species when human policies and actions threaten their existence. It is not the pipeline we oppose, it is sending species to extinction that we oppose.

Rob Mrowka

North Las Vegas

The writer is an ecologist working for the Center for Biological Diversity as the conservation advocate for the state of Nevada.

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