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Endangered Arizona Fish May Get Help from Obama Presidency

November 25, 2008

Tucson, AZ – Arizona's state fish has fallen on hard times. The Apache trout is slowly being squeezed out of its already receding mountain habitat by climate change.

But help may be on the way. Wildlife advocates are excited about environmental initiatives that could reverse the rising temperatures that threaten the fish with extinction.

President-elect Obama plans to aggressively attack global warming by working to sharply reduce carbon emissions. Scotty Johnson, Arizona Senior Outreach Representative with Defenders of Wildlife, says he’s impressed with Obama's inclusive approach to tackling environmental problems.

"This is huge. This is crucial because all of us, Republicans, Democrats, conservatives and liberals, live on the planet and we need to take care of it."

Johnson hopes Obama's strategy will include funding for research and programs to help wildlife such as the Apache trout adapt and survive during the decades it will take to start reversing the effects of climate change.

"I'm very, very hopeful and excited that President Obama will begin to lead in a way that leaves a solid wildlife legacy; whether we enjoy nature for what it is, whether we hunt or whether we fish, we all owe this to future generations."

Scores of Arizona species are feeling the heat, says Johnson, but the state fish is among the hardest hit.

"The Apache trout is an endangered, native species in Arizona that is being forced higher up in the mountain streams as water heats up. It’s also suffering because there’s less water due to drought."

Experts say Apache trout are less-tolerant of warmer waters than other fish species. The fish's habitat has shrunk by 95 percent over the past century. Opponents say the costs of Obama's proposals to reduce emissions will further damage an already broken economy, with no guarantees they will work.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ