ST. GEORGE – A 5-inch silvery minnow, or rather 500 of them, will be the focus of attention at a public gathering Friday at 2 p.m. at the Red Hills Desert Garden, 375 E. Red Hills Parkway in St. George, when the school of Virgin spinedace will be released into the garden’s streams in an effort to both preserve and enhance the species.
The Virgin spinedace, though not on the endangered species list, are being transplanted from Beaver Dam Wash as a protective measure.
“The Red Hills Desert Garden stream will provide a refuge for spinedace that could be reintroduced into Beaver Dam Wash if there is an event that threatens their existence in the wild,” Henry Maddux, director of the Virgin River Program, said.
Virgin spinedace are found only in the Virgin River Basin.
The species has been managed under a conservation agreement between local, state and federal agencies since 1995, according to a press release issued by the Washington County Water Conservancy District. Under the agreement, the species has been restored to more than 85 percent of its historical habitat.
Ongoing efforts coordinated by the Virgin River Program and its partners include maintaining existing populations, the release said, re-establishing populations in historic habitat and creating conditions that allow the species to expand its range.
Virgin spinedace, or Lepidomeda mollispinis mollispinis, gets its name from the sharp spiny rays in its dorsal fin, according to the Virgin River Program website. The fish looks, feeds, and behaves like a miniature trout.
Unlike the woundfin and chub, which live only in the Virgin River, spinedace are also found throughout many tributary streams. Virgin spinedace prefer deep pools and runs and are at home in both clear and turbid water.
- What: Release of Virgin spinedace into streams at Red Hills Desert Garden
- When: Friday, Sept. 11, 2 p.m.
- Where:Red Hills Desert Garden, 375 E. Red Hills Parkway, St. George
- Who: Public welcome to attend, participate
- Virgin River Program website, or call 435-673-3617 for more information.
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