A tiny Mojave Desert snail that lives under rocks on mountain slopes is threatening the closure of the Golden Queen Mine, a Kern County gold mine even before it can begin operations. The Center for Biological Diversity has filed emergency protection for the snail under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Read the petition. (PDF) The Mojave shoulderband, Helminthoglypta greggi, is a pale-brown half-inch snail with a flattened shell found on just three small isolated mountains in the western Mojave Desert near the town of Mojave. The mountains cover less than eight square miles of desert: the snails use only a small proportion of that area. The Center for Biological Diversity researchers found 17 snails or snail shells on Soledad Mountain outcroppings.
The Golden Queen Mine, which is on the site of mines created during California's last big gold rush in the 1930s but which have not been operated for years. However, the mine owners said they spent $8.1 million last year on development costs, including constructing the route for a conveyor, building roads, and grading for a workshop and warehouse building that is being built.
If the Center for Biological Diversity wins this petition and this small brown snail receives ESA protection, what other small insignificant biological entity could cause the closure of your favorite Rockhounding Area.
Don't let this happen to your collecting areas, pull your head out of the sand and get involved in the decision making process. Be aware of what is taking place in your area. Contact your elected officials let them know you are a Rockhound and Rockhounds use public lands for recreational activities and that Rockhounding is an Acceptable Recreational Avtivity.