Signup for our emails

   Please leave this field empty


Feds: Arapahoe Snowfly Warrants Federal Protection

But Fish and Wildlife Service Claims Listing is Precluded by Other Priorities

Additional Contacts:
Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation * 503-449-3792

Gary Wockner, Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper * 970-218-8310

Josh Pollock, Conservation Director, Rocky Mountain Wild * 303-454-3382

Denver, CO- Responding to a petition from a coalition of conservation organizations and scientists, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) today issued a positive 12-month listing determination for the Arapahoe snowfly (Capnia arapahoe), finding that protection is warranted under the Endangered Species Act, but that listing the species is precluded by higher priority actions.

Upon publication of the 12-month petition finding, the USFWS will add the Arapahoe snowfly to its candidate species list and develop a proposed rule to list the species as priorities allow. 

The Arapahoe snowfly is known from only two small tributaries of the Cache la Poudre River in the Front Range of Northern Colorado: Young Gulch and Elkhorn Creek. A recent status review developed by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation strongly indicates that this aquatic insect is critically imperiled and may be on the brink of extinction. 

“We are pleased that the Service has determined that the Arapahoe snowfly warrants protection,” said Scott Hoffman Black of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “We hope that they work with all due haste to list this species as an endangered species.”

Besides being extremely rare, the Arapahoe snowfly is threatened by habitat damage from intensive recreation; livestock grazing; logging; stream de-watering; application of insecticides in the vicinity of Elkhorn Creek; sedimentation and runoff from roads and trails; and pollination from residential and destination resort septic systems.

Endangered Species Act protection for the snowfly would help protect their habitat and facilitate restoration efforts.

“Our mission is to protect and restore the Cache la Poudre River, and that includes the river itself and every species in it. It's terrible news that the Arapahoe Snowfly indeed merits listing as an endangered species, but it's good news to find out now so we can all work together keep this river ecosystem healthy and whole,” said Gary Wockner of Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper. “We look forward to protecting this species and we accept part of the responsibility to make sure the Arapahoe Snowfly never goes extinct from the face of the earth.”

Snowflies (sometime called winter stoneflies) such as the Arapahoe snowfly are described as “indicator species,” meaning that the health of their populations signals the health of their freshwater habitats. Snowflies require cool clear rivers and streams making them excellent biological indicators of watershed health. 

“The plight of the Arapahoe snowfly should serve as a wakeup call for all of us on the Front Range to care for our streams and rivers,” said Josh Pollock of Rocky Mountain Wild. “Extinction is just not sound stewardship, and we know we can do better.  Endangered Species Act protection can help us do that in the case of the Arapahoe snowfly.”

The Arapahoe snowfly is only one of the many important species found in the Cache la Poudre watershed. Careful management in this watershed is essential to maintain sustain the diverse species this area supports.


Dr. Boris Kondratieff is a Professor of Entomology at Colorado State University.

The Xerces Society is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the

diversity of life through the conservation of invertebrates.

WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting and restoring wildlife, wild places, and wild rivers in the American West.

Save The Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper works to protect and restore the Cache la Poudre River.

Cache la Poudre River Foundation is an organization founded for the protection of wild trout through the town of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Rocky Mountain Wild, formerly Center for Native Ecosystems, conserves and recovers native species and ecosystems of the Greater Southern Rockies using the best available science.

For more information on the Arapahoe snowfly (Capnia arapahoe), see



All active news articles