Banbury Springs lanx

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists conduct nonintrusive annual monitoring of Banbury Springs lanx to determine whether colonies are declining, stable or increasing.

COURTESY OF K. GARNER, U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

This is outdoors news for science geeks: A tiny, endangered gastropod present only in Idaho has been officially described as a new genus and species.

It’s now the Idaholanx fresti, discovered in 1988 by Terry Frest and thought to be an undescribed species in the genus Lanx. Its pyramid-shaped shell is red-cinnamon in color and ranges from .09 to .28 inch long.

Commonly called the Banbury Springs lanx or Banbury Springs limpet and federally designated as endangered in 1992, it needs cold, clear, well-oxygenated water with swift currents. Its colonies, found on underwater boulders and cobbles, exist only in four spring complexes that flow into the Thousand Springs portion of the Snake River. (I won’t name the springs here, but they’re listed in the scientific papers.)

Last month, this tiny creature got its scientific name.

In late March, David C. Campbell of Gardner-Webb University, Stephanie A. Clark of The Field Museum and Charles Lydeard of Morehead State University published research describing the endangered Banbury Springs lanx as a distinct genus and species based on molecular and anatomical data.

What threatens the Idaholanx fresti? Habitat modification, spring-flow reduction, groundwater quality and the invasive New Zealand mudsnail, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says.

More Auger Falls climbing

Remember my March story about Moss Rock? The house-sized basalt boulder became a beginner-friendly rock climbing destination this spring when Shawn Willsey developed the first fixed climbing routes in Auger Falls Heritage Park.

And now Willsey has finished three bolted lead climbs on another large boulder at Auger Falls. This one, about a quarter-mile west of Moss Rock, is dubbed MegaBlock and meant for climbers learning to lead sport routes. Willsey rated his “Ride the Wave” route as 5.7, “Ahoy Pahoehoe” as 5.9 and “Scour Power” as 5.8 but invited feedback from other climbers in the Southern Idaho Climbing Coalition.

“I have no illusions that these are ‘classic’ routes by any stretch; however, they are fun for what it’s worth and provide more climbing opportunities for those learning the sport and/or those with children,” Willsey wrote.

For photos and GPS coordinates, see his post in the “(SICC) Southern Idaho Climbing Coalition” Facebook group.

I’m just guessing, but I’d say a couple of those route names are references to the Bonneville Flood, which deposited those big boulders near Auger Falls thousands of years ago.

Virginia Hutchins is enterprise editor of the Times-News and Magicvalley.com; reach her at vhutchins@magicvalley.com or 208-735-3242.

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