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Oklahoma ES discussesPossibility of Mussel Sanctuary Pool withOklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
Southwest Region, February 15, 2007
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 Location: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Concervation  NE Regional Office

Participants: Richard Stark and David Martinez, Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office; Gary Peterson, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Executive summary:

Richard Stark and David Martinez of the Oklahoma ES Field Office (OKESFO) met with Gary Peterson of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) regarding the feasibility of designating portions or all of Pool 15 in the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System as a mussel sanctuary.  Freshwater mussel surveys were conducted in 2004 to determine possible impacts of the channel deepening feature of the Arkansas River Navigation Study (i.e., proposed dredging and disposal activities) to freshwater mussels.  Results indicated that the channelized navigation system no longer provides abundant habitat for freshwater mussels.  The paucity of high-quality mussel habitat and mussels makes protecting existing habitat, beds, and patches especially important.  Pool 15 contained the highest abundance of mussels and habitat within the navigation system in Oklahoma.  The OKESFO recommended designating Pool 15 as a mussel sanctuary in our Coordination Act Report on ARNS (CAR) due to the relative abundance of mussels and habitat conducive to mussel patches and beds.  In a letter dated June 16, 2005, wherein ODWC responded to the draft CAR prepared by the OKESFO on ARNS, ODWC indicated their support of this recommendation.  ODWC continues to support this recommendation.  During our meeting, we discussed the necessary steps to move forward, the role of ODWC and the Service, and significant dates.  Designating the mussel sanctuary would require a change to ODWC Title 800 Rules and Regulations.  ODWC will begin to review their data on harvest activity in Pool 15, assess any potential impact to revenue, and coordinate further with our office.  Subsequently, the OKESFO will submit a rule change proposal using a standard form to ODWC by September 1, 2007, the deadline for proposed changes to Fish Rules.  At this time, we plan to propose designating the entire Pool in order to facilitate law enforcement efforts.  The proposal will be reviewed by the ODWC Rules Committee and, if approved, will be discussed at the next public hearing regarding changes to ODWC Title 800 Rules and Regulations.  ODWC would then address any comments and present the proposal to the Wildlife Commission for approval.  

FWS programs involved: Ecological Services

External partners involved: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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