U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Critical Habitat Designation for Vermilion Darter
December 7, 2010
Connie Light Dickard, USFWS, 601/321-1121
Denise Rowell, USFWS, 251/441-6630
Tom MacKenzie, USFWS, 404/679-7291
A little over 13 stream miles of critical habitat in Jefferson County is designated for the Vermilion darter, a small, multi-colored fish found only in Alabama. The species, federally listed as endangered in 2001, reaches lengths of roughly two inches as an adult.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its critical habitat designation of 13.15 stream miles in the Turkey Creek watershed today in the Federal Register.
The darter’s critical habitat area includes five units in and near the city of Pinson. The units are within the upper main-stem reaches of Turkey Creek and in four tributaries, including Beaver Creek, an unnamed tributary to Beaver Creek, Dry Creek, and Dry Branch.
Critical habitat is a term in the Endangered Species Act (Act) that identifies geographic areas containing features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species, and which may require special management considerations or protection. Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership, establish a refuge or preserve, and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not already require federal funding or permits.
The final rule can be obtained on the Internet by visiting the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R4-ES-2009-0079. A copy of the final rule is also available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Field Office, 6578 Dogwood View Parkway, Jackson, MS 39213, phone: 601-321-1121.
This darter is endangered due to the effects of urbanization on its habitat, such as construction of impoundments; gravel extractions; road, pipe, and bridge construction; and decreased water quality and flow. Currently, the vermilion darter only occurs in sparse, isolated populations in the Turkey Creek watershed. Surviving populations are highly vulnerable to habitat destruction, deterioration, and fragmentation.
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. For more information, visit the Service’s website at http://www.fws.gov or http://www.fws.gov/southeast/
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