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Agency Draft Recovery Plan for Seven Freshwater Mussels Available for Review


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 21, 2003

Contact:
Tom MacKenzie, 404/679-7291
Jerry Ziewitz, 850/769-0552, ext. 223

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has written a draft recovery plan for seven freshwater mussels listed on the federal threatened and endangered species list and is seeking the public’s input on the plan.

These seven mussels can be found today only in a few river basins in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia – the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint, Ochlockonee, Suwannee, and Econfina Creek basins. Once they were more widely distributed in hundreds of stream miles in these basins.

This draft plan describes what is needed for the conservation of these seven mussels, establishes criteria for recovery levels required for downlisting or delisting each species, and estimates the time and cost for implementing the needed recovery measures. All seven were listed in March 1998.

Responsible for the decline in range and abundance of these species has most likely been changes to their habitat. These have included the introduction of contaminants, the construction of dams and other impoundments, gravel mining, and sedimentation. Genetic factors associated with the increasingly small and isolated populations and the introduction of alien species also may present obstacles to their recovery.

Because mussels continuously siphon water while filtering for food, they accumulate chemicals in their bodies and shells, including contaminants present in their surroundings. This activity makes mussels good indicators of the health of streams they inhabit. Mussels are also important as food sources for a variety of mammals, birds, fish and turtles.

Copies of the plan can be obtained by writing to the Panama City Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1601 Balboa Avenue, Panama City, Florida, 32405, by calling Jerry Ziewitz at 850/769-0552, ext. 223, or by visiting our website at http://panamacity.fws.gov or http://endangered.fws.gov. Comments must be received in the Panama City Field Office on or before August 18, 2003. The Federal Register notice can be found at: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2003/03-18081.htm

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 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


7 Mussels Recovery Plan -- (pdf file)



For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://southeast.fws.gov/ or http://www.fws.gov/.



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Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

   
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