Critical Habitat Designated for 11 Freshwater Mussels
Light Dickard: 601-321-1121
All 11 species were listed under the Endangered Species Act on March 17, 1993. Three species – the fine-lined pocketbook, orange-nacre mucket and Alabama moccasinshell – were listed as threatened. Eight species – the Coosa moccasinshell, ovate clubshell, southern clubshell, dark pigtoe, southern pigtoe, triangular kidneyshell, upland combshell and southern acornshell – were listed as endangered.
The areas designated as critical habitat include portions of rivers and streams in:
• Tombigbee River drainage
in Itawamba, Monroe and Lowndes counties in Mssissippi and Lamar, Pickens,
Greene, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties in Alabama;
Critical habitat is a term in the Endangered Species Act. It identifies geographic areas that contain features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and may require special management considerations. The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other conservation area. It does not allow government or public access to private lands.
This critical habitat designation was completed in response to a lawsuit filed by the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project.
In 30 years of implementing the Endangered Species Act, the Service has found that the designation of critical habitat provides little additional protection to most listed species, while preventing the Service from using scarce conservation resources for activities with greater conservation benefits.
In almost all cases, recovery
of listed species will come through voluntary cooperative partnerships,
not regulatory measures such as critical habitat. Habitat is also protected
through cooperative measures under the Endangered Species Act including
Habitat Conservation Plans, Safe Harbor Agreements, Candidate Conservation
Agreements and state programs. In addition, voluntary partnership programs
such as the Service’s Private Stewardship Grants and Partners
for Fish and Wildlife program also restore habitat. Habitat for endangered
species is provided on many national wildlife refuges, managed by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife management areas.
Estimated economic costs
associated with listing and critical habitat designation for the 11
freshwater mussel species range between approximately $2,000,000 and
$13,600,000 per year in potential economic impact. The recovery of these
11 mussels is unlikely in the near future due to the extent of their
decline and the degree of fragmentation and isolation of their habitats.
Therefore, the Service has concluded that all 26 units are essential
to the conservation of these species and have identified no areas where
the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of this designation.
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Atlanta, GA 30345