NANFA-- FW: Critical Habitat Proposed for Eleven Freshwater Mussels

Nick Zarlinga (
Tue, 1 Apr 2003 07:41:32 -0500


Nick Zarlinga
Aquarium Biologist
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
216.661.6500 ext 4485

March 26, 2003 Elsie Davis, (404) 679-7107
Connie Light Dickard, (601)

Critical Habitat Proposed for Eleven Freshwater Mussels

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing that portions of rivers
streams, totaling some 1,093 miles in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and
Tennessee, be designated as critical habitat for 11 federally-listed
freshwater mussels. All 11 mussels were listed March 17, 1993, under
Endangered Species Act. The Service did not propose critical habitat at
the time of listing because insufficient information was available then
the distribution and the biological needs of these species.

The eleven mussel species with proposed critical habitat are the
fine-lined pocketbook, orange-nacre mucket, and Alabama moccasinshell
the endangered Coosa moccasinshell, ovate clubshell, southern clubshell,
dark pigtoe, southern pigtoe, triangular kidneyshell, upland combshell,
southern acornshell.

Portions of the rivers and streams included in the critical habitat
proposal for the eleven mussels are the:

? Tombigbee River drainage in Itawamba, Monroe and Lowndes counties
Mississippi and Lamar, Pickens,
Greene, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties in Alabama;
? Black Warrior River drainage in Tuscaloosa, Fayette, Winston,
Lawrence, Blount and Jefferson counties in
? Alabama River drainage in Dallas, Lowndes, and Autauga counties in
? Cahaba River drainage in Bibb, Jefferson and Shelby counties in
? Tallapoosa River drainage in Macon and Cleburne counties in
plus Haralson and Paulding counties
in Georgia;
? Coosa River drainage in Coosa, Clay, Shelby, Talladega, Calhoun,
Cherokee, St. Clair and Cleburne
counties in Alabama and Murray, Whitfield, Gordon and Floyd
counties in Georgia plus Bradley and Polk
counties in Tennessee.

"This critical habitat proposal will inform the public of areas that are
important to the species' recovery and identify where conservation
benefitting the mussels would be most effective," said Sam D. Hamilton,
Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Service is making this proposal in response to an order by the U.S.
District Court for the Eastern District Court of Tennessee to submit for
publication a proposed critical habitat determination by March 17, 2003
a final determination by March 17, 2004. The Service is currently
public comments on this proposed designation until June 24, 2003.

Critical habitat refers to specific geographic areas that are essential
the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and which may
require special management considerations or protection. A critical
designation does not set up a preserve or refuge and only applies to
situations where Federal funding or a Federal permit is involved.

As listed species under the Endangered Species Act, the mussels are
protected wherever they occur and Federal agencies are required to
on any action taken that might affect the species. The designation of
critical habitat will help the mussel species by ensuring Federal
and the public are aware of the mussels' habitat needs and that proper
consultation is conducted by Federal agencies when required by law.

When determining areas to designate as critical habitat, the Service
considers physical and biological habitat features that are essential to
the conservation of the species. These features include space for
individual and population growth and for normal behavior; cover or
food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or physiological
requirements; sites for spawning and rearing offspring; and habitats
are protected from disturbances or are representative of the historic
geographical and ecological distributions of a species.

As part of designating critical habitat, the Service also takes into
account the economic impact, as well as any other relevant impacts, of
specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The Service may
any area from critical habitat if it is determined that the benefits of
excluding it outweigh the benefits of specifying the area as a part of
critical habitat, unless it is determined that the failure to designate
area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the species.
Service will publish an announcement in the Federal Register to notify
public when the draft economic analysis is available for review and

A complete description of the proposed critical habitat designation has
been published in the Federal Register today. Copies of the proposal
maps are available on our Internet site. GOTOBUTTON BM_1_ or by contacting Connie Light
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6578 Dogwood View Parkway, Suite A,
Jackson, MS 39213; phone 601-321-1121.

Public hearings on this proposal will be held if requested. The Service
will consider comments and information received by June 24, 2003.
comments and information on the mussels' proposal should be mailed,
or delivered in person to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attn: Paul
Hartfield, 6578 Dogwood View Parkway, Suite A, Jackson, MS 39213; Fax:
601-965-4043, or sent by electronic mail to

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System, which encompasses 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of
wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69
fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services
field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers
Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores
nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife
such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation
efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes
of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment
state fish and wildlife agencies. Visit the Service's website at

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