Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Critical Habitat for Devils River Minnow Proposed
Southwest Region, July 31, 2007
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Proposed Designation of critical habitat in Texas for the Devils River minnow was published in the Federal Register July 31, 2007.  The fish was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1999.

Critical habitat is a term in the ESA, identifying geographic areas that contain features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that may require special management considerations or protection. 

The Service proposes designating 47.5 miles of rivers and streams as critical habitat for the species.   This includes portions of the Devils River and San Felipe Creek in Val Verde County and Pinto Creek in Kinney County, Texas.  Most of the area proposed for designation occurs along private lands, except for a portion of the Devils River that flows through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Devils River State Natural Area and portions of San Felipe Creek, owned by the City of Del Rio. The species is also known to have occurred in Las Moras Creek and Sycamore Creek in Kinney County; however, these creeks are not included in the proposed critical habitat designation because the species is no longer found there.

The Devils River minnow is a small fish (usually less than 3 inches long) with hatched markings along the sides and a lateral line that extends through the upper lip.  The species only lives in spring-fed streams of the western Edwards Plateau in Texas that flow into the Rio Grande.  The species requires perennial streams of clean flowing water where they inhabit shallow areas with moderate to swift currents.  They use gravel bottoms to deposit their eggs for spawning and are most often found in association with aquatic vegetation, presumably for cover to avoid predators. The primary threats to the species include habitat loss and degradation (water quantity and quality) and impacts from non-native species.

As part of the Devils River Minnow Conservation Team, the Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the City of Del Rio, and private landowners have worked cooperatively to implement voluntary conservation measures and to develop conservation strategies that will benefit the minnow and its habitat.

The Service is currently seeking comments on the proposal and will also be conducting an economic analysis related to this proposed rule for critical habitat and will seek additional public comments when the draft economic analysis is available for review.

Comments on the proposed rule must be received by close of business on October 1, 2007.  Public hearing requests must be received in writing by September 14, 2007.  

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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