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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — On a recent, scorching afternoon in Albuquerque, off-road vehicles cruised up and down a stretch of dry riverbed where normally the Rio Grande flows. The drivers weren’t thrill-seekers, but biologists hoping to save as many endangered fish as they could before the sun turned shrinking pools of water into dust.
For the first time in four decades, America’s fifth-longest river went dry in Albuquerque last week. Habitat for the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow — a shimmery, pinky-sized native fish — went with it. Although summer storms have made the river wet again, experts warn the drying this far north is a sign of an increasingly fragile water supply, and that current conservation measures may not be enough to save the minnow and still provide water to nearby farms, backyards and parks.