North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area
A picturesque view of bluffs along Cain Creek with chokeberry in the foreground
During September and October of 2013, staff from the Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office enjoyed opportunities to assist botanists from the Tennessee Division of Natural Areas – Natural Heritage Program as they monitored populations of Virginia spiraea (Spiraea virginiana) in Tennessee. This species is found in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia on flood-scoured cobble and boulder bars and bedrock outcrops, shaped by streams draining the rugged terrain of Southern Appalachia. One such place where botanists monitored this species is North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area – a place with a story that demonstrates the importance of partnerships for recovering species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Read more
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Endangered Status for the Northern Long-eared Bat: Listing Not Warranted for Eastern Small-footed Bat
Photo credit: Steve Taylor; University of Illinois
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The Service also determined that the eastern small-footed bat does not warrant listing.
The northern long-eared bat is found across much of the eastern and north central United States, and all Canadian provinces from the Atlantic Ocean west to the southern Yukon Territory and eastern British Columbia.
News Release (.pdf)
Proposed Rule (.pdf)
Service Finalizes Listing of Two Freshwater Mussels and Designation of Critical Habitat
photo credit: Brett Ostby
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is listing the fluted kidneyshell and the slabside pearlymussel as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These two mussels are only found in portions of the Cumberland and Tennessee River systems of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia.
News Release (.pdf)
Final Listing Rule (.pdf)
Final Critical Habitat Rule (.pdf)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (.pdf)
Economic Analysis (.pdf)
Coordinates for Fluted Kidneyshell critical habitat stream segments (.pdf)
Coordinates for Slabside Pearlymussel critical habitat stream segments (.pdf)
Welcome Home, Winged Mapleleaf Mussel
Don Hubbs with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Sara Sorenson with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prepare to return the federally endangered winged mapleleaf mussel to the Duck River in Tennessee. Photo: Chris Davidson - USFWS
An endangered mussel came home to a Tennessee River last week, a monumental reintroduction effort seven years in the making.
On Wednesday, federal and state biologists placed 103 winged mapleleaf mussels in the middle portion of the Duck River. The last time the species was seen in the river was more than two decades ago, when empty shells were collected in 1990 and 1991.
The freshwater mussel’s historical range, dating from the 1800s, is the Mississippi River and its tributaries from Minnesota to Arkansas. By the time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the winged mapleleaf as endangered in 1991, its only known population was in the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Since then, four additional populations were found in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.
Partners in the reintroduction effort with the Service are the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Missouri State University, and the Kansas City Zoo.
Service biologist Chris Davidson, the Southeast Regional lead for the winged mapleleaf mussel, said reintroducing the species to rivers within its historical range (such as the Duck River) is one of the recovery goals for the species.
“It took seven years to identify suitable fish hosts in the southern portion of the species’ range,” said Davidson. “Then we had to work out some kinks with propagation and ‘grow out’ techniques.”
One effort was an attempt to “grow out” the juvenile mussels in the Saline River (southern Arkansas), rather than a hatchery or zoo facility.
The young mussels – all about two and a half years old – have traveled more than some people. They were produced from fertilized females found in Arkansas’ Saline River, which were then brought to Missouri State University. At the university’s mussel propagation center, the female mussels expelled their larvae onto a channel catfish. The larvae have a parasitic stage where they must attach to catfish gills until they mature into tiny, juvenile mussels and drop off the host fish. Channel catfish and blue catfish are the only suitable fish hosts for winged mapleleaf.
The juvenile mussels remained at the university for about six months. They then were transferred to the Kansas City Zoo where they continued growing for another two years.
Davidson said the probability of survival is good because the mussels are more than two years old.
Future winged mapleleaf mussels for reintroduction in the Duck River will be grown at the Service’s Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery in Louisiana.
The Duck River was selected in part because it’s close to the Saline and Ouachita rivers in Arkansas, where two of the five populations of winged mapleleaf are found. The Duck River has high mussel density and diversity, plenty of channel and blue catfish, and no invasive zebra mussels, which have out-competed native species in other rivers.
One more good reason to pick the Duck River: Tennessee has long-term monitoring sites there, and will be able to track the mussels’ progress. Biologists tagged, or laser engraved, unique numbers to these mussels, which will help identify the mussels when they are later recaptured in the monitoring effort.
For more information about the winged mapleleaf mussel species, visit:http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/clams/winge_fc.html.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Endangered Species Act Protection and Critical Habitat Designation for Three Plants in the Southeast
Short's bladderpod - photo credit: John MacGregor
Whorled Sunflower - photo credit: Alan Cressler
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list three plants as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. At the same time, the Service also proposes to designate critical habitat for these species. Those plants are Short’s bladderpod, whorled sunflower, and fleshy-fruit gladecress. Collectively, these plants occur in Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Alabama.
News Release (.pdf)
Frequently Asked Questions (.pdf)
Proposed Listing Rule (.pdf)
Proposed Critical Habitat Rule (.pdf)
Harpeth River Restoration Project earns 2013 Governor of Tennessee's Environmental Stewardship Award - Excellence in Natural Heritage
For nearly 50 years, a low-head dam located on the main stem of the Harpeth River in Franklin, Tennessee, impounded water and restricted the movement of fish. The Harpeth River Restoration Project represents a major initiative in restoring and enhancing one of Tennessee’s increasingly valuable and scenic rivers. Selected as the sole demonstration project in Tennessee under the Great American Outdoors Rivers Initiative, this project illustrates how it is possible to restore the natural flow and ecology of a river system while still allowing for drinking water withdrawals. Removal of the dam in July 2012 makes the Harpeth one of the few free-flowing rivers in Tennessee, improves habitat for key, rare species, improves water quality by reducing sediment and erosion, and enhances recreational access and safety. The project’s ecological
significance cannot be overestimated as the Harpeth is one of a very unique system of southeastern rivers that together hold more biodiversity than
anywhere else in the world.
Read full article in the Tennessean
Service Identifies Habitat Essential to Five Endangered Southeastern Fishes
Chucky madtom - photo credit: Conservation Fisheries Inc.
After reviewing and incorporating information from the public and the scientific community, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today identified approximately 228 river miles and 29 acres of critical habitat in, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama; and Arkansas, that contain aquatic habitat essential to the conservation of the Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, Chucky madtom, and laurel dace, five species of fish protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
News Release (.pdf)
Final Rule (.pdf)
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lists Neosho Mucket as Endangered and Rabbitsfoot as Threatened
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is listing the Neosho mucket as endangered and the Rabbitsfoot as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Both species are freshwater mussels found in river systems in the eastern half of the United States.
The Neosho mucket has been eliminated from about 62 percent of its historic range with only nine of 16 historic populations remaining. Only one of these populations is known to be reproducing. The Neosho mucket is currently found in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.
The Rabbitsfoot has disappeared from about 64 percent of its historic range. While 51 of the 140 historic populations remain, only 11 populations (22 percent of its existing populations or eight percent of the historic populations) are viable; 23 populations (45 percent of the existing populations) are at risk of elimination; and 17 populations (33 percent of the current populations) show limited reproduction with little evidence of sustainability. The Rabbitsfoot is currently found in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. The Rabbitsfoot is no longer found in Georgia and West Virginia.
News Release (.pdf)
Final Rule (.pdf)
Free Flow Restored to the Harpeth River
Since 2004, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has cooperatively worked with the Harpeth River Watershed Association, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and other partners to address water quality impairments and habitat degradation in the Harpeth River Watershed. These collaborative efforts have produced innovative strategies designed to improve the overall health of the watershed while providing enhanced recreational opportunities for the region.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state agencies, and non-governmental organizations are restoring the free flow of the river and important habitat on the Harpeth River. This project will remove the only barrier on the Harpeth River to reconnect the entire river for fish passage, restore natural fish habitat, stabilize eroding river banks in the 2,000 feet of the river in the vicinity of the lowhead dam, and maintain the City of Franklins drinking water withdrawal. The Harpeth River is a State designated Scenic River and is one of the most archeologically and historically-significant rivers in the State.
The Service provided approximately $350,000 through the Fish Passage Program, National Fish Habitat Action Plan, and Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership. The Service is also making in-kind contributions by monitoring aquatic habitats after removal of the dam and the restoration of this reach of the Harpeth River. Many partners were involved in making this project a model for conservation success. A "Dam Cam" has been set up to record the removal with time lapse photography and is available online at http://www.harpethriver.org/
Centennial Park Restoration Project
(L to R) Debbie Duren (NRDAR Program Manager, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation); Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill (TDEC Bureau of Parks and Recreation); Dennis Gregg (Obed Watershed Community Association); Mayor J.H. Graham III, Moria Painter (NPS Obed Wild and Scenic River): Niki Nicholas (Superintendent, Big South Fork NRRA), and Steve Alexander (FWS, Tennessee Field Office)
In 2002, there was a significant oil and natural gas well blowout and spill into Clear Creek, a tributary of the Obed Wild and Scenic River in Tennessee. A Trustee Council comprised of the National Park Service, the State of Tennessee, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was formed to assess natural resource injuries pursuant to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (“OPA”), 33 U.S.C. §§2701, 2706, and 15 CFR Part 990. The Trustee Council developed a Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (DARP) and an Environmental Assessment that documented natural resource injuries associated with the spill and presented to the public potential restoration projects to compensate for those injuries. One of the restoration projects proposed in the DARP involves active stormwater management through the modification of existing drainage channels and the construction of wetlands/rain gardens within the City of Crossville’s Centennial Park. These stormwater drainage channels discharge to a tributary of the Little Obed River at several locations within the park. The Obed River downstream of Crossville is also federally designated critical habitat for the threatened spotfin chub.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lists Two Freshwater Mussels as Endangered
A mature and juvenile spectaclecase mussel found during a mussel survey. Spectaclecase mussels are gone from more than half of their historical range.
Photo by USFWS; Tamara Smith
March 12, 2012
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the sheepnose and spectaclecase, two freshwater mussels found in river systems in the eastern half of the United States, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Sheepnose are currently found in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The sheepnose occurs in 25 streams, down from 76, a 67 percent decline. Very few of these populations are known to be reproducing.
Read more in the News Release
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lists Two Freshwater Mussels as Endangered Species
Snuffbox in McElroy Creek Photo by Mike Hoggarth
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed two freshwater mussels – the rayed bean and the snuffbox – as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. The two mussels are found in river systems in the eastern United States.
The rayed bean is currently found in rivers in Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia, as well as Ontario, Canada. The snuffbox occurs in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Finds 374 Aquatic-dependent Species May Warrant Endangered Species Act Protection
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will conduct an in-depth status review of 374 rare southeastern aquatic, riparian and wetland animal and plant species to determine if any or all of them warrant federal protection as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The Service made this decision, commonly known as a 90-day finding, after reviewing a petition seeking to add a total of 404 species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants and analyzing information about these species in its files. While this initial review found evidence to suggest that ESA protection may be warranted for 374 of these species, the Service will now undertake a more thorough status review before determining whether to propose any of them for listing.
View the petition
Table of 374 species
Tennessee Purple Coneflower Delisted
Photo Credit: Geoff Call - USFWS
Thanks to the efforts of many partners who have worked together for more than 30 years to expand and protect this sunflower’s colonies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is removing the Tennessee purple coneflower from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants in 30 days, by September 2, 2011. This plant is found in the limestone barrens and cedar glades of Davidson, Rutherford, and Wilson Counties.
Read More (News Release)
Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan
Listen to a podcast about the story of recovering the coneflower.
Final Recovery Plan for Endangered Pyne's Ground-Plum Availalble
The recovery plan for the for the Pyne’s ground-plum, a federally listed, endangered plant, is now available. The plan describes actions considered necessary for the plant’s recovery, establishes criteria for downlisting and delisting the species, and estimates the time and cost for implementing the needed measures.
Read the News Release
Read the Final Recovery Plan
Golden-winged Warbler May Warrant Protection Under the Endangered Species Act
The golden-winged warbler, a small songbird found in the north-central and eastern United States, may warrant federal protection as a threatened or endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today. The announcement follows an initial review of a petition seeking to protect the golden-winged warbler under the Endangered Species Act.
Read the news release
Berry Cave Salamander Placed on Federal Candidate Species List
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the Berry Cave salamander on its Candidate Species List for federal protection.
As a result of a status review, called a 12-month finding, the Service finds this aquatic, cave-dwelling salamander warrants addition to the federal list of threatened and endangered species. However, for now, the Service must focus its limited funding for species at greater risk. The salamander’s addition to the Candidate List means its status will be reviewed annually.
FAQs about the 12 Month Finding
Read the Notice from the Federal Register
Premier Hunting Experiences Accessible
Where is the closest National Wildlife Refuge that offers turkey hunting for people with disabilities?
You don’t need to guess or start phoning names on a long list. A new National Wildlife Refuge System interactive Web site, Your Guide to Hunting on National Wildlife Refuges, (http://www.fws.gov/refuges/hunting) provides hunters with an easy search mechanism to find a refuge by special interest, such as game species (i.e. deer, waterfowl, big game), zip code, youth or\ special needs (i.e. universally accessible), or using any combination of topics. You can also search by a refuge name or state name.