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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

October 24, 1997

Vernon Tabor (KS/NE/SD) 913-539-3474 ext 17
Terry Sexson (KS/NE/SD) 303-236-7917 ext 429
Georgia Parham (MO) 812-334-4261, x 203
Dan Sobieck (IA/MN) 612-725-3737, x221




The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comments by December 23, 1997 on a proposal to list a small native fish, the Topeka shiner, as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The Topeka shiner once lived in portions of Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The species is now found primarily in a few scattered tributaries within the Missouri and Mississippi river basins and the Flint Hills region in Kansas. Many populations are very reduced in numbers, and are geographically isolated from other populations. The Topeka shiner is already protected under state law in Missouri and Kansas. Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota consider it a species of concern, with no legal protection. The Topeka shiner does not receive any special recognition in Iowa.

The Topeka shiner is adapted to prairie streams with high water quality and pools containing cool, clear water, most often associated with spring or seep flows. The fish is considered an indicator of the health of aquatic ecosystems, which in turn has implications for the quality of water available for human use and recreation.

The primary threat to the Topeka shiner today is loss of habitat from stream sedimentation and decreased water quality. The fish would benefit from actions that protect natural stream systems, their riparian vegetation and their natural flow.

If the Topeka shiner is listed under the Endangered Species Act, the species would be protected from direct "taking"--harming or killing--of individual fish. Any project or action that may affect the shiner and that is funded, authorized, or permitted by any federal agency would be subject to review and consultation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Actions by individual citizens on private property would not be subject to this consultation requirement unless they involve Federal funds, authorization, or permits. Actions which do not have a negative impact on the Topeka shiner--such as prescribed burning and grazing, farming, and construction of small stock watering ponds in upland areas--are not expected to be affected.

A conservation agreement is in place for the Topeka shiner in the Mill Creek Watershed District in Kansas. The conservation agreement was developed jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, and the Mill Creek Joint Watershed District No. 85. The agreement focuses on reducing and eliminating some of the more significant threats to the species resulting from flood control measures proposed for implementation within the basin, maintaining core populations of the species necessary for long-term viability, while still allowing the District to achieve an effective level of flood control.

One of the major threats facing the Topeka shiner, in portions of its range, is the construction of dams on streams where it occurs. Due to a combination of factors, including increased predation and blockage of upstream and downstream migration, the Topeka shiner has been known to disappear from streams where dams are constructed. The Mill Creek Watershed Joint District No. 85 approached the Service and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks in an attempt to coordinate their proposed tributary dam construction in such a way to minimize impacts on the species and ensure its maintenance in the basin into the future.

The Conservation Agreement outlines specific steps which will be taken by all three entities in an effort to meet the dual goals of species conservation and flood protection. At the heart of the agreement is the designation of all streams in the Mill Creek basin based on their degree of importance to the species.

Anyone with biological information or comments on the status of this species is requested to provide information to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 315 Houston Street, Suite E, Manhattan, KS 66502. All data received will be reviewed by the Service before a final decision is reached.

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