A tiny fish known to exist only in the Red Hills area of Tuolumne County could be on the brink of extinction due to the current drought, according to scientists from the University of California, Davis.
The findings come from a project by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences surveying about 70 streams and rivers across Northern and Central California to evaluate habitat conditions this summer and document the drought's effect on fish populations.
According to UC Davis geographer Amber Manfree, a team of researchers from the Center for Watershed Sciences traveled to Tuolumne County last week in search of the Red Hills roach, an imperiled minnow-like fish native to the area.
A subspecies of the California roach, the Red Hills roach is listed as a "species of special concern" by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Its distinguishing feature is a hard fold of skin on its lower lip that separates it from any other known type of roach.
The Red Hills roach has a very limited habitat - only three seasonal creeks that feed Six-Bit Gulch - making it particularly sensitive to dry periods like those of the past three years.
For the complete story, see the Aug. 22 edition of The Union Democrat.