FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 10, 1997

Vicki M. Boatwright or

Diana M. Hawkins





OKALOOSA DARTER DRAFT REVISED RECOVERY PLAN

AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public input on a draft revised plan to aid in recovering populations of a small endangered freshwater fish, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southeast Regional Director, Noreen K. Clough. When finalized, the revised recovery plan will replace the original plan drafted in 1981.

The Okaloosa darter was listed as endangered June 4, 1973, under the Endangered Species Act. A small member of the perch family, the fish feeds on aquatic insect larvae and grows to about 2 inches in length. It inhabits aquatic vegetation, root mats, and detritus patches in six small, cool, clear, stream systems flowing from forested sandhills on Eglin Air Force Base into two bayous on the north side of Choctawhatchee Bay in Okaloosa and Walton counties, Florida. Okaloosa darters are in danger of extinction because their habitat has deteriorated due to the construction of impoundments, and pollution due to erosion, sedimentation, and siltation. These species also face stiff competition for food and habitat from the brown darter, a closely related fish that is thriving despite the altered conditions.

The draft revised plan, Clough said, calls for the species to be reclassified to threatened status and eventually delisted when self-sustaining populations are maintained in the six stream systems it inhabits, and when interagency agreements ensure the favorable quantity and quality of water in these streams. Once finalized, the revised recovery plan will replace the original 1981 plan, and will provide the necessary updated guidance to aid public and private sector groups and individuals in contributing to the recovery of this species.

The Service will collect written public comments on this recovery plan during a 60-day period beginning June 10, 1997. Copies of the proposed plan may be obtained from the Service by writing to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Panama City Field Office, 1612 June Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32405, or by calling 904/769-0552.

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Release #95-54


1997 News Releases

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