Interior denies protection for Calif. fish species

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Sacramento splittail fish does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The decision puts the Obama administration on the same side as a former Bush administration official who was accused of interfering in dozens of endangered species decisions, including the Sacramento splittail. Julie MacDonald resigned as deputy assistant Interior secretary in 2007.

The fish is found only in California's Central Valley. Biologists in the Sacramento field office had concluded the fish should remain on the threatened list. They were overruled under pressure from MacDonald. She owned an 80-acre farm on which the fish live. The Interior Department reviewed its 2003 decision after MacDonald resigned.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.