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Lakeview, Oregon: Petition to List the Thermophillic Ostracod as Endangered Species

Newsrelease related to the petition to list the Thermophillic Ostracod as an endangered and threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 4, 2011

Conservationists and Scientists Petition to List the Thermophilic Ostracod
Under the Endangered Species Act

The Friends of Hunters Hot Springs and the director of the Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Oregon as well as Dr. Richard Castenholz of that institution today filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the themophillic ostracod (Potamocypris hunteri) as an endangered species.

The thermophillic ostracod is found at Hunter's Hot Springs in Lakeview, Oregon (elev. 1,470m). These springs are located 3.2 km north of Lakeview, Lake County, Oregon. This thermophillic ostracod, a microcrustacean, is unique in its ability to tolerate and thrive at a temperature as high as known for any other aquatic animal (49C).

Hunter's Hot Springs have been known for hundreds of years by native Americans, and comprise a series of 20+ hot springs streams seeps, and pots that not only support a wide variety of wildlife and human activities, but unique invertebrate and bacterial comunities important to science.

The hot springs at Hunters have been studied since the early 1960s, primarily by Dr. Richard Castenholz, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Oregon. Dr. Castenholz has written over 35 professional, published, papers on Hunter's microbial mat communities and their microorganisms, funded by the National Science Foundation.

"Although Hunter's Hot Springs is not part of a World Heritage Site and UNESCO Biosphere Preserve as is Yellowstone National Park, it is the most studied of hot springs in the Americas, outside of some in Yellowstone National Park" states Dr. Castenholz. "The thermophillic ostracod is an integral part of these thermal ecosystems which are important to our understanding of the beginning of life on our planet."

The short and long-term pressures on the thermophillic ostracod are "sustainable" geothermal energy projects that threaten the spring system of the Hunters geothermal basin. The thermophillic ostracod and the unique microbial mats upon which it grazes depend on spring water of sufficient temperature to exist. The most recent threat is a geothermal power generation facility proposed to be sited on an existing hot water well that is operated by the Town of Lakeview and that currently serves the Oregon Department of Corrections, Warner Creek Correctional Facility. The well is less than 100 yards from the hot springs at Hunters.

Chris Zinda, founder of the Friends of Hunters Hot Springs, has been leading the charge against the dewatering of the Hunter's geothermal basin. "Our group is dedicated to ensuring that the Tragedy of the Commons and the rush for "sustainable" energy development does not result in the destruction of unique geothermal ecosystems of international scientific importance," says Zinda. "A holistic view of the Hunter's geothermal basin needs to be adopted, with the thermophillic ostracod and the biotic systems on which it depends as the primary indicator of the basin's health."

The Friends of Hunters Hot Springs has been working closely with the owner of the private, Hunters Hot Springs Resort during this petitioning process.

CONTACT:

Friends of Hunters Hot Springs, 777 North H. Street, Lakeview, Oregon 97630, 541-219-0347,  http://www.friendsofhuntershotsprings.org.

Richard Castenholz, Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 482 Onyx Bridge, 5289 University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-5289, 541/346-4530
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