Minnow found only in Clear Lake wins protection

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — A minnow that makes its home in Northern California's Clear Lake basin has been deemed a threatened species by state officials.

The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa reports (http://bit.ly/1uiDGSR) that the California Fish and Game Commission conferred the legal protection on the minnow, called the Clear Lake hitch, last week.

Wildlife groups and Clear Lake's Pomo Indian tribes say the inches-long hitch is a critical part of Clear Lake's ecosystem, which is the only place it is found. The hitch used to clog the lake's tributaries at spawning times, but fewer than a thousand are believed to survive today.

The hitch's new status could lead to limits on water diversions that could affect ranchers and farmers.