West Virginia Field Office
Northeast Region
West Virginia Field Office News and Highlights

northern long-eared bat
Some populations of the northern long-eared bat in the Northeast have declined by 99 percent since symptoms of white-nose syndrome were first observed in the winter of 2006-2007. Credit: USFWS

Tune in to online information webcasts on the northern long-eared bat

August 14, 2014

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold three public information webcasts August 19-21 to provide information and answer questions about our proposal to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Webcasts will be Tuesday, August 19, at 1 p.m. Eastern; Wednesday, August 20, at 4 p.m. Eastern; and Thursday, August 21, at 7 p.m. Eastern. People can join the 1-hour information sessions by calling a toll-free number and joining a web conference to view a presentation and participate in a facilitated question-and-answer session.

Meeting advisory
More on the northern long-eared bat


Cheat Mountain salamander
Cheat Mountain salamander. Credit: USFWS

Agencies settle with West Virginia individuals charged with federal environmental violations

March 12, 2014

Read the news release (PDF - 106 KB)


eagle working group
An international group of researchers and conservationists from the Eastern Golden Eagle Working Group met in Davis, WV to help protect golden eagles.

Eastern golden eagle working group comes to West Virginia

January 22, 2014

Early this January an international group of biologists and wildlife managers came to West Virginia to discuss the latest updates in research and the conservation status of the golden eagle. Golden eagles are of growing interest because in the western USA many are impacted by development of renewable energy. The meeting included exciting workshops such as how to band and track a golden eagle, how to choose and set up trail cameras, and how to age an eagle based on its feather molt patterns.

The Eastern Golden Eagle Working Group (EGEWG) is a collaborative effort by multiple agencies, organizations, and universities to support research and management efforts that address international, regional, and local conservation needs for golden eagles. The EGEWG also strives to effectively conserve the eastern golden eagle population on its' breeding, migratory, and wintering grounds while raising conservation awareness in eastern North America. This year's meeting of the EGEWG took place on migration/wintering grounds, at the Blackwater Falls Lodge, in Davis, WV.

Learn more about the Eastern Golden Eagle Working Group


Elk River, WV
Elk River, West Virginia. Credit: Craig Stihler, WVDNR

Service officials begin pre-assessment at W.Va.'s Elk River spill 

January 15, 2014

As much as 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or crude MCHM, leaked into the Elk River on January 9 near the Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant in Charleston, W.Va. When chemicals such as MCHM enter the environment, our agency, along with other governmental partners, assesses the injuries to fish, wildlife and their habitats. In coordination with West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, we've initiated this process on the Elk River.

Learn more about the natural resource damage assessment process


northern long-eared bat
This northern long-eared bat has visible symptoms of white-nose synrdome. Credit: Craig Stihler, WVDNR

Endangered status proposed for northern long-eared bat

October 18, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Northeast populations of the bat, found across all 13 states in the region, have declined by 99 percent since symptoms of the disease white-nose syndrome were first observed in 2006. The Service also determined that the eastern small-footed bat, which has not shown drastic decline at winter hibernacula, does not warrant listing. Comments and information from the public are encouraged through Dec. 2, 2013. 

News release
More information


Rabbitsfoot mussel
A Rabbitsfoot Mussel Credit: Dick Biggins/USFWS

Mussel once found in West Virginia is now protected under ESA

September 16, 2013

Read the news release


Virginia big-eared bat
Both endangered Virginia big-eared (above) and Indiana bats may be injured by turbines as they travel across the ridge tops and high plateaus where wind farms are placed.
Credit: Jeff Hajenga, WVDNR

Beech Ridge Energy one step further in endangered species permitting process

September 12, 2013

Read the latest


rabbitsfoot mussel
Elk River, West Virginia Credit: Craig Stihler, WVDNR

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identifies critical habitat for West Virginia fish

August 21, 2013

The endangered diamond darter, a tiny fish that has faced serious threats to its home, depends on 123 miles of habitat for its survival, the Service today announced. Once found along the southern Appalachians from Ohio to Tennessee, this native darter has been restricted to one stream along the Elk River by years of changes from dams, water quality degradation and other threats.

The Service has identified 28 miles of occupied habitat in Kanawha and Clay counties, West Virginia, and to ensure its recovery, the Service has deemed 95 miles of unoccupied habitat in Edmonson, Hart and Green counties, Kentucky, as essential for the darter’s conservation. Critical habitat designation is primarily for purposes of consultation with other federal agencies, which have to make special efforts to protect aspects of these areas. The designation does not set up a preserve and applies only to activities authorized, funded, or carried out by a federal agency.

More


Fence
Darters, like the diamond darter pictured here, play an important role as indicators of good water quality and diversity. Healthy darter populations indicate that rivers are healthy and would sustain other populations of fish, such as musky or bass. Diamond darter, Credit:P. Rakes/Conservation Fisheries Inc.

West Virginia fish added to endangered species list

July 25, 2013

The diamond darter, a tiny fish that has faced serious threats to its habitat, will now be protected under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced. The native diamond darter could once be found along the southern Appalachians from Ohio to Tennessee. Years of changes from dams, water quality degradation and other threats have restricted this small member of the perch family to one stream along the Elk River, where fewer than 125 diamond darters have been collected during the last 30 years.

News release


Fence
Partners marked the millionth foot of fencing with a decorated post. Credit: USFWS

Partners celebrate 1 million feet of conservation fence in West Virginia

May 20, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Trout Unlimited, working in partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency, West Virginia Conservation Agency, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, numerous non-governmental organizations and many landowners, have installed more than 1 million feet of conservation fence throughout the state of West Virginia. Conservation fencing projects provide a "win-win" for farmers, wildlife, and agencies across the landscape. Livestock exclusion fencing is a conservation tool that helps to keep nutrients on the farm and reduces nutrient input into streams and upland forest throughout the watershed.

News release
Photos
More about the W.V. Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program


rabbitsfoot mussel
A Rabbitsfoot Mussel Credit: Dick Biggins/USFWS

Service re-opens public comment period for protecting rabbitsfoot mussel under ESA

May 8, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to protect the rabbitsfoot freshwater mussel as threatened and has identified habitat essential to its recovery in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The Service has re-opened the comment period for this action, as the agency has released the estimated cost and economic impacts of the proposed critical habitat designation of the rabbitsfoot and another freshwater mussel, the Neosho mucket. The rabbitsfoot has been extirpated from approximately 64 percent of its historical range, including West Virginia. It is presently extant in 51 of its 140 historical streams and the populations with few exceptions are highly fragmented and restricted to short reaches.

For more information, contact John Schmidt, acting field office supervisor, 304-636-6586 x 16.

More (press release)


Diamond darter
Diamond darter. Credit: USFS

Service estimates economic impacts of critical habitat designation for West Virginia fish

March 28, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has analyzed the economic impacts of designating critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act for the diamond darter. The agency today released a draft economic analysis concluding that costs related to the proposed critical habitat for the diamond darter would be narrow and mostly administrative. Additionally, the designation would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, such as county governments, small businesses and organizations. In July 2012, the Service proposed that the darter be protected as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and that a total of 123 river miles be established as critical habitat in West Virginia and Kentucky.

For more information, contact John Schmidt, acting field office supervisor, 304-636-6586 x 16.

Questions and answers
Federal Register Notice
Economic analysis
2012 news release


A female West Virginia northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus) that was found by U.S. forest service biologists during annual monitoring of nest boxes in November 2012. Credit: Kristopher Hennig, AmeriCorps with the USFS
A female West Virginia northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus) that was found by U.S. forest service biologists during annual monitoring of nest boxes in November 2012.
Credit: Kristopher Hennig, AmeriCorps with the USFS

West Virginia northern flying squirrels are again considered recovered throughout Virginia, West Virginia

March 4, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has published a final rule to reinstate removal of the Virginia northern flying squirrel, more commonly known as the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, from the endangered species list under the Endangered Species Act. A Nov. 13, 2012, court order reversed a 2011 district court’s decision that the Service erred in delisting the squirrel. This final rule is necessary to update the Code of Federal Regulations to reflect the court order.

Final rule in Federal Register
More on the squirrel


Mike Powell of The Nature Conservancy and a group of LEAF program interns plant Canaan balsam firs in a section of Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Kent Mason / The Nature Conservancy
Mike Powell of The Nature Conservancy and a group of LEAF program interns plant Canaan balsam firs in a section of Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Kent Mason/The Nature Conservancy

Biologists work to restore West Virginia balsam fir

December 31, 2012

While the West Virginia balsam fir has become a top choice for Christmas tree farms, this distinct variety of northern fir is fighting to survive on its own in the West Virginia wild. To help, staff from The Mountain Institute and other volunteers assisted the West Virginia Field Office Partners for Fish and Wildlife program in 1999 with the construction of over 6,000 feet of livestock exclusion fence.

The fence allows the trees to grow by keeping cattle from about 35 acres of the core portion of the Blister Swamp, named after the blister pine or balsam fir. Home to numerous globally rare plants, the swamp lies just west of the Monongahela National Forest boundary and is also the headwaters of the East Fork of the Greenbrier River, a native brook trout stream. WVFO staff has also assisted in several efforts to replant native balsam fir and red spruce to the swamp.

Read more on this in the Charleston Gazette


Energy company requests Endangered Species Act permit from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

October 24, 2012

Beech Ridge Energy has submitted a permit application and a habitat conservation plan for a wind project addressing impacts to the endangered Indiana bat and Virginia big-eared bat at its project in Greenbrier and Nicholas counties, West Virginia. The plan would cover 25 years of operations of 67 wind turbines, construction and operations of an additional 33 turbines, and decommissioning of the turbines at the end of the permit period. To access archived documents and check on the status of the application, click on more information.

More information


Virginia big-eared bat
Both endangered Virginia big-eared (above) and Indiana bats may be injured by turbines as they travel across the ridge tops and high plateaus where wind farms are placed.
Credit: Jeff Hajenga, WVDNR

West Virginia energy company requests Endangered Species Act permit from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

August 23, 2012

The Service has released the second draft habitat conservation plan for a wind project in the Northeast. Beech Ridge Energy developed the plan for its permit application addressing impacts to the endangered Indiana bat and Virginia big-eared bat at its project in Greenbrier and Nicholas counties, West Virginia. The Service invites comment on its draft environmental assessment of the project, Beech Ridge Energy's permit application and the company's draft habitat conservation plan, a requirement for the permit. The plan would cover 25 years of operations of 67 wind turbines, construction and operations of an additional 33 turbines, and decommissioning of the turbines at the end of the permit period.

News release
More information


Indiana bat
Healthy, hibernating Indiana bat
Credit: Ann Froschauer/USFWS

$700,000 grant will support land acquisition for W.Va. endangered species

August 14, 2012

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced August 14, 2012, a $700,000 grant to support acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered animals in West Virginia. In Preston County, West Virginia, funds will help acquire habitat for the threatened flat-spired three-toothed land snail and the endangered Indiana bat. Awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, the grant is part of $33 million to fund projects in 21 states benefiting numerous species, from the Peninsular bighorn sheep to Kirtland's warbler.

More (news release)


Indiana bat fatality at West Virginia wind facility

August 14, 2012

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed on July 26, 2012, that an endangered Indiana bat was found dead at the 61-turbine Laurel Mountain Wind Power facility near Elkins, W.Va.

Learn more


diamond darter
The diamond darter is a member of the perch family, but differs from most other perch by their smaller size and more slender shape.
Credit: Stuart Welsh/USGS

West Virginia fish may become protected under Endangered Species Act

July 25, 2012

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed that the diamond darter be protected as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and that a total of 123 river miles be established as critical habitat in West Virginia and Kentucky. This small fish, named for its sparkling reflections, could once be found along the southern Appalachians, but years of changes from dams and channeling restricted this native fish to one stream along the Elk River in West Virginia. Coal mining, oil and gas development, erosion, timber harvesting and poor wastewater treatment could make river waters unlivable for the diamond darter. The designation of critical habitat is for purposes of consultation with other federal agencies.

News release


Beetles released to help battle invasive plant

June 27, 2011

The West Virginia Field Office recently released two groups of Galerucella beetles near Elkins, W.V. to help control the invasive purple loosestrife. Biologists relocated about 900 beetles to the Elkins Iron and Metal, a metal recycling yard. The beetles, which eat loosestrife, can take as little as three years to start thoroughly controlling the invasive plant. Various factors can lengthen that time period, including weather and beetle life cycles.

Learn more at the "Eat Loosestrife" blog


Federal regulations updated for Virginia northern flying squirrel under the Endangered Species Act

June 16, 2011

In June 2011, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a final rule to comply with a court order that reinstated the regulatory protections under the Endangered Species Act for the Virginia northern flying squirrel, more commonly known as the West Virginia northern flying squirrel. The court order had legal effect upon its filing in March 2011, but this final rule is necessary to update the Code of Federal Regulations. West Virginia northern flying squirrels are listed and protected as endangered throughout Virginia and West Virginia.

Read the news release
Learn more about the species


West Virginia Field Office starts project to battle invasive plant

May 15, 2011

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area AmeriCorps members to raise Galerucella beetles to help control the invasive purple loosestrife in the Elkins, W.V. area. This perennial plant can grow up to five feet tall each year, produce thousands of seeds per plant and choke out other wetland species. Since the 1990s, the leaf-feeding Galerucella beetles have been released in at least 33 states with close monitoring of the biological control's success.

Follow this project through the "Eat Loosestrife" blog


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes endangered species protection for two freshwater mussels

January 19, 2011

The Service has proposed Endangered Species Act protection for the sheepnose and the spectaclecase, two freshwater mussels found in river systems in the eastern U.S. These mussels occupy less than half the number of streams where they once occurred. Threats include loss and degradation of habitat due to impoundments, channelization, chemical contaminants, mining and sedimentation. The decline of freshwater mussels often signals a decline in the water quality of their habitat.

Learn more about the spectaclecase and the sheepnose


West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel Update: Delisting Lawsuit

August 28, 2008

On August 28, 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule to to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the Virginia northern flying squirrel (see information below), more commonly known as the West Virginia northern flying squirrel (WVNFS). A lawsuit challenging the final rule was filed, and on March 25, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated and set aside the 2008 delisting rule (Friends of Blackwater et. al. v. Salazar et al., 1:09–cv–02122-EGS). The decision reinstates Federal protections that were in place prior to the 2008 delisting. Therefore, WVNFS is listed as endangered throughout its range. Take of WVNFS may be authorized only by a permit obtained under section 10 of the ESA, or if exempted by an incidental take statement within a biological opinion issued by the Service pursuant to section 7 of the ESA.

The Service has appealed the Court's decision and the appeal process is ongoing. Additional background information, including previous Federal actions, can be found here.


Spruce No. 1 Surface Mine

July 21, 1998

Energy development is important for the future of our nation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) works with states, other federal agencies, and industry to provide the best scientific information so that natural resources can be conserved as energy sources are developed.

The Service provided technical assistance to the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate potential impacts of Spruce No. 1 Surface Mine. These comments were based on the Service's responsibility under the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act.

Read the correspondence

Back


Last updated: August 14, 2014