Virginia Field Office
Northeast Region
News and Highlights

Kinder Morgan Settlement Agreement

Read the full document here. (PDF-644KB)


John Schmidt
Although darters in general make up 20 percent of freshwater fish species in North America, candy darters are found only in a portion of West Virginia and Virginia. Credit: T. Travis Brown

Endangered Species Act Protections Proposed for One of North America’s Most Vivid Freshwater Fish

October 3, 2017

Visit the fast-flowing streams of Virginia and West Virginia’s upper Kanawha River Basin, and you might be lucky enough to witness flashes of teal, red and orange from the minnow-like candy darter. But with the latest data indicating a declining trend for the species, this vibrant freshwater fish could soon be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Following a review of the best available scientific information, the Service proposed to list the candy darter as threatened under the ESA. Nearly half of the 35 candy darter populations known when the species was first described in 1932 have now disappeared.

The agency invites public comment for 60 days, until December 4, 2017, on the proposed rule at www.regulations.gov under docket # FWS–R5–ES–2017–0056. 

News release
Candy darter website
Candy Darter Species Status Assessment (SSA) Report (PDF)


Kenk's amphipod
Amphipods are helpful indicators for water quality and are food for other animals like salamanders. Credit: USFWS

Small Shrimp-like Crustacean Will Not be Added to Endangered Species List

Conservation is underway at new sites with more Kenk’s amphipods

September 28, 2017

Thanks to collaborative state and federal efforts, the outlook is better for the Kenk's amphipod, proposed last year to be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The Service today announced the move to withdraw its proposed listing due in part to new survey data showing there are three sites containing additional populations in Virginia. New information on potential threats throughout the species' range and recent conservation efforts, also led to the agency's decision.

"Once we learned the range of the Kenk's amphipod could be broader, we worked with partners to conduct additional species surveys," said Paul Phifer, the Service's assistant Northeast regional director. "The survey findings, along with the protections in place by the U.S. Army and The Nature Conservancy, led us to conclude the Kenk's amphipod has a more secure future and is not threatened or endangered."

News release
Federal Register

Notice of Availability for Public Comment
Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (DARP) for the CSX Transportation Train Derailment in Mt. Carbon, West Virginia

CSX Transportation Final DARP

The natural resource trustees, Department of the Interior through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the State of West Virginia through the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources invite the public to review and comment on the Draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (DARP) for the CSX Transportation Train Derailment in Mt. Carbon (Fayette County), West Virginia release of Bakken crude oil that occurred on February 16, 2015. The trustees initiated the natural resource damage assessment and restoration (NRDAR) process to address natural resources and/or services injured or lost due to the release of Bakken oil into Armstrong Creek and the Kanawha River resulting from the CSX train derailment.

The trustee's draft DARP outlines restoration options to compensate the public for the natural resource injuries and associated losses in ecological and recreational services. The goal is to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of these injured natural resources using the recovered monetary damages rather than compensate any single party for the economic consequences of pollution.

Public participation is an important part of NRDAR. The publication of this Notice opens a 30-day period for public comment on the draft DARP through May 23, 2017. Requests for paper copies and written comments should be addressed to: Susan Lingenfelser, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6669 Short Lane, Gloucester, Virginia 23061, 804-824-2415 or email susan_lingenfelser@fws.gov.


Yellow lance
Yellow lance. Credit: Sarah McRae/USFWS

Freshwater mussel proposed for threatened status

April 6, 2017

A freshwater mussel native to waters from Maryland to North Carolina along the Atlantic seaboard has lost 57 percent of its historical range. After a thorough status review, the Service has proposed to protect the mussel under the Endangered Species Act.

The yellow lance faces threats from water pollution coming directly from sites such as sewage treatment plants and solid waste disposal sites, or from runoff caused by road drainage, private wastewater discharges, or other sources; erosion; or dams which affect both upstream and downstream mussel populations by disrupting natural flow patterns, scouring river bottoms, changing water temperatures, and fragmenting habitat. Comments will be accepted through June 5, 2017.

More information


Natural Resource Trustees Seek Public Input on Draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (DARP) for the Kinder Morgan Terminals South Hill Terminal jet fuel release

Kinder Morgan Draft DARP
Kinder Morgan Final DARP

The natural resource trustees, Department of the Interior through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Commonwealth of Virginia invite the public to review and comment on the Draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (DARP) for the Kinder Morgan Terminals South Hill Terminal jet fuel release that occurred on January 22, 2016. The trustees initiated the natural resource damage assessment and restoration (NRDAR) process to address natural resources and/or services injured or lost due to the release of oil at or from the South Hill Terminal owned and operated by Kinder Morgan Terminals, located in Chesapeake, Virginia.

The trustee’s draft DARP outlines restoration options to compensate the public for the natural resource injuries and associated losses in ecological and recreational services. The goal is to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of these injured natural resources using the recovered monetary damages rather than compensate any single party for the economic consequences of pollution.

Public participation is an important part of the NRDAR process. The publication of this notice opens a 30-day period for public comment on the draft Draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan until April 18, 2017. Requests for paper copies and written comments regarding the plan should be addressed to: Susan Lingenfelser, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6669 Short Lane, Gloucester VA 23061, 804-824-2415, or email susan_lingenfelser@fws.gov.


Natural Resource Trustees Seek Public Input on Draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment for DuPont Waynesboro - South River/South Fork Shenandoah River/Shenandoah River

DuPont Waynesboro draft RP/EA

In coordination with a proposed consent decree with DuPont in excess of $50 million to resolve claims stemming from the release of mercury from their facility in Waynesboro, VA, state and federal government natural resource trustees have released a draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment (RP/EA) proposing actions to restore the river and wildlife habitat, and improve public lands and recreational resources. Over 100 miles of river and associated floodplain have been contaminated by mercury in the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River watershed. Since 2005, the trustees (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Commonwealth of Virginia) have been working cooperatively with DuPont to complete a natural resource damage assessment and restoration (NRDAR) process to address mercury releases from the DuPont facility. The NRDAR process was created by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and other federal laws. Natural resource trustees are authorized to act on behalf of the public to assess injuries to natural resources resulting from the release of hazardous substances into the environment. As part of this process, trustees possess the authority to pursue claims against responsible parties for monetary damages based on these injuries. The goal is to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of these injured natural resources using the recovered monetary damages. NRDAR is not a mechanism to compensate any single party for the economic consequences of pollution or for losses beyond natural resource injuries. During a 45-day comment period, ending January 30, 2017, the trustees invite feedback on the draft RP/EA. The draft RP/EA outlines restoration options to compensate the public for the natural resource injuries and associated losses in ecological and recreational services resulting from exposure to DuPont facility-related mercury. A range of restoration options were developed with stakeholder input and evaluated by the trustees. Under the proposed consent decree, DuPont will make a cash payment to the trustees of just over $42 million, which the trustees will utilize to complete restoration projects designed to address the identified injuries.  Trustees have ultimately proposed preferred restoration alternatives for use of these funds that best meet criteria set by law, which includes a requirement that restoration efforts specifically focus on the injured resources.  Proposed projects include:

  • land protection, property acquisition, improvements to recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat restoration
  • improvements to water quality and fish habitat through activities such as streamside plantings and erosion control, as well as stormwater pond improvements
  • mussel propagation and restoration to improve water quality, stabilize sediment, and enhance stream bottom structure
  • Front Royal Fish Hatchery renovations to improve production of warm-water fish such as smallmouth bass (DuPont has agreed to fund this directly, outside of the $42 million)
  • recreational fishing access creation or improvement
  • migratory songbird habitat restoration and protection

Public participation is an important part of the NRDAR process. The publication of this notice opens a 45-day period for public comment on the draft RP/EA until January 30, 2017. Requests for paper copies and written comments regarding the plan should be addressed to: Anne Condon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6669 Short Lane, Gloucester VA 23061, 804-824-2407, or email anne_condon@fws.gov. The trustees will host a public meeting to summarize key components of the restoration plan and answer questions. The public meeting will be held on January 10, 2017, at the Waynesboro library lower level meeting room from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM. The library is located at 600 S. Wayne Avenue, Waynesboro, VA 22980. The trustees will review and consider comments received during the public comment period when preparing the final RP/EA. For more information on the consent decree for the NRD settlement filed in federal court visit the U.S. Department of Justice’s website: www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

Learn more



Coastal wetland. Credit: Lamar Gore, USFWS

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Final Policy on Mitigating Impacts of Development to Further Conservation of Nation's Wildlife and their Habitats

November 18, 2016

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a final revised Mitigation Policy that will guide its review of potential impacts of land and water development projects on America's wildlife and their habitats. Through this policy, the Service will help others mitigate (avoid, minimize and compensate) for a project's impacts to species and their habitats. This update of the Service's longstanding Mitigation Policy, which has guided agency recommendations since 1981, will provide a broad and flexible framework to facilitate conservation that addresses the potential negative effects of development, while allowing economic activity to continue.

News Bulletin 
Learn More 
FAQs


Kenk's amphipod found among leaf litter
Kenk's amphipod are colorless, without eyes, and about the size of a pinky fingernail. Credit: Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Endangered Status Proposed for Rare Shrimp-Like Amphipod in D.C., Maryland, Virginia

September 29, 2016

Most underground amphipods are eyeless, colorless and about the size of your pinky fingernail. Unflattering characteristics aside, their presence packs a punch: amphipods are vulnerable to water quality and are important parts of a healthy food web. One amphipod, found only in the Washington metropolitan area and Caroline County, Virginia, could soon find itself on the federal endangered species list.

In proposing endangered status for the Kenk’s amphipod today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service outlines a potentially grim future for the shrimp-like crustacean, threatened by poor water quality, degraded natural spring habitat and small populations.

News Release
Kenk's Amphipod Fact Sheet


The Yellowfin Madtom (Noturus flavipinnis) is a threatened species found only in the Tennessee River Drainage
The Yellowfin Madtom (Noturus flavipinnis) is a threatened species found only in the Tennessee River Drainage.
Credit: Conservartion Fisheries, Inc.

A Little Catfish Returns Home

September 13, 2016

On June 2, 2016, just northeast of Saltville, Virginia, photographers and reporters eagerly watched on as six 7th grade students of Northwood Middle School stood side by side in the shallow waters of the North Fork Holston River. Each student held a small, clear container of water - inside of which was a single fish.  A florescent green mark near its tail distinguishes it as hatchery raised.  In unison they bent down and carefully poured out the contents. The fish immediately head for shelter on the river bottom.  

Missing for nearly 128 years – the yellowfin madtom returned home.  The ritual was repeated until all 70 students got their chance to take part in the event.  In all, 300 madtoms were released by students, teachers, County Board members, agency officials, and even Representative Morgan Griffith.

More Information

 


In late April 2016 a male golden riffleshell sits anchored in the sunlit stream bottom of Indian Creek near Cedar Bluff, VA.
In late April 2016 a male golden riffleshell sits anchored in the sunlit stream bottom of Indian Creek near Cedar Bluff, VA. Credit: Tim Lane, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Race to Save the Golden Riffleshell

September 9, 2016

The quiet, pastoral landscape of remote southwestern Virginia was filled with sudden loud cheers when biologists managed to collect three golden riffleshell mussels (Epioblasma florentina aureola) from a stream near Cedar Bluff, Virginia. This endangered species – which is listed as the tan riffleshell (E. f. walkeri), despite a recent change in its scientific name – is now likely one of the rarest freshwater mussels on Earth. It survives only in a single, small and isolated population in Indian Creek, a tributary to the Clinch River, and biologists racing to save it from extinction were thrilled to discover that not only were the golden riffleshell they had found all female, they were also carrying glochidia, which is what immature, young mussels are called.

More Information


releasing fish
Congressman Griffith and Northwood Middle School students release threatened yellowfin madtoms into the North Fork Holston River. Credit: USFWS

Students Help Mini Catfish Swim once again in Southwestern Virginia Waters

June 3, 2016

Sometimes you can go home again. At least, that’s what the yellowfin madtom did today, as U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith joined Northwood Middle School students, local officials and biologists to release 300 of these rare 4-inch catfishes into their new home in the North Fork Holston River in Smyth County, Virginia.

News Release


Photo of bald eagle
Bald Eagle. Credit: Todd Harles, USFWS

New Science Provides Foundation for Proposed Changes to Service’s Eagle Conservation and Management Program

May 9, 2016

In a move designed to maintain strong protections for bald and golden eagles, the Service is opening a 60-day public comment period on proposed improvements to its comprehensive eagle conservation and management program. The proposed changes include modifications to the regulations governing permits for incidental take of bald and golden eagles that will protect eagle populations during the course of otherwise lawful human activities.

News Release
Learn More
FAQs


Photo of Puerto Rico Harlequin butterfly
Puerto Rice harlequin butterfly.
Credit: USWFS

Federal Agencies Propose Revisions to CCAA Policy under the ESA

May 3, 2016

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries today proposed revisions to the Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs) policy under the Endangered Species Act. The revisions, which do not change requirements of participating landowners, will simplify the process of developing and approving CCAAs, which provide incentives for the public to implement specific conservation measures for declining species before they are listed under the ESA. The Service is also proposing changes to its CCAA regulations to make them consistent with the proposed changes to the policy.


News Release
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Photo of Northern long-eared bat
Northern long-eared bat. Credit: Al Hicks,
New York Department of Environmental
Conservation.

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination That Designation of Critical Habitat Is Not Prudent for the Northern Long-Eared Bat

April 27, 2016

The USFWS has determined that designating critical habitat for the northern long-eared bat is not prudent. Northern long-eared bat summer habitat is not limited or in short supply and summer habitat loss is not a range-wide threat to the species. Designating critical habitat in the areas where it summers would not benefit the northern long-eared bat, and therefore, would not be prudent. Winter habitat does have specific physical and biological features that are essential to the conservation of the species, and, therefore, meets the definition of critical habitat. However, information became available demonstrating that designating critical habitat would likely increase vandalism, disturbance, and, potentially, the spread of white-nose syndrome in the caves and mines where northern long-eared bats hibernate. Therefore, we determined that it is not prudent to designate winter habitat as critical habitat.

News Release
Frequently Asked Questions
More Information


Photo of golden riffleshell
Female golden riffleshell carrying glochidia.
Credit: Tim Lane, Virginia Tech

Racing the Clock to Save the Golden Riffleshell

April 18, 2016

Loud cheers rang out in southwestern Virginia in March 2016 when biologists discovered three golden riffleshell (Epioblasma florentina aureola). The species – which remains federally listed endangered as the tan riffleshell (E. f. walkeri), despite a recent change in its scientific name – is now likely one of the rarest freshwater mussels on Earth, persisting in a single small and isolated population in Indian Creek, a tributary to the Clinch River. Not only were these individuals female, they were also carrying glochidia, which is what immature, young mussels are called.

The golden riffleshell is just one of the many freshwater mussels species that call the Clinch River watershed home. In fact, the region boasts one of the most diverse assemblages of these freshwater animals in the nation. These animals play an important role in their environment, filtering and cleaning river water.

More Information


Photo of northern long-eared bat
Northern long-eared bat. Credit: USFWS.

National white-Nose Syndrome Decomtamination Protocol Released

April 12, 2016

The latest formal revision of the national decontamination protocol to prevent spread of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome. This document is the product of a collaborative effort between with multiple federal and state agencies and several non-governmental organizations.

Decomtamination Protocol (pdf)


Indiana bat photo
Indiana bat. Credit: USFWS.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) 2016 Range-wide Indiana Bat Summer Survey Guidelines are available

April 12 , 2016

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) 2016 Range-wide Indiana Bat Summer Survey Guidelines are now available on the Midwest Region’s Indiana Bat Summer Survey Guidance webpage
http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/mammals/inba/inbasummersurveyguidance.html
(You may need to refresh your browser or clear your browser cache to ensure you’re seeing the updated info)

NOTE:  The 2016 Indiana Bat Summer Survey Guidelines may also be used for presence/probable absence surveys for the federally threatened northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) throughout its U.S. range during the 2016 summer survey season.

Substantive changes from the 2015 survey guidelines appear in light blue font throughout the 2016 document.  A few notable changes (not an exhaustive list) include the addition of hemispherical and omnidirectional microphones, an increase in the minimum height/distance of microphone from nearest vegetation or other obstructions, use of standardized electronic permit reporting forms (see below) and a checklist for conducting acoustic surveys.

More Information


Photo of Big Sandy Crayfish
Big Sandy crayfish. Credit: Zachary Loughman,
West Liberty University.

Endangered Species Act Protections Finalized for Two Appalachian Crayfishes in Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia

April 6, 2016

Just months after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s April 2015 proposal to protect the Big Sandy crayfish and Guyandotte River crayfish as endangered, the agency sent a crayfish expert into the central Appalachians to look for more.

The goal: to determine if the outlook for the two creatures was better than previous data indicated.

After combing hundreds of likely sites in the Big Sandy and Guyandotte River watersheds in Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky, the survey team from West Liberty University had mixed results. Based on analysis of these results, as well as peer review, public comment and other new information, the Service has determined that the Guyandotte River crayfish will be listed as endangered, and the Big Sandy crayfish as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

News Release


Photo of green sea turtle nesting
Green sea turtle nesting at Archie Carr
National Wildlife Refuge.

Credit: Blair Witherington

Listing of Green Sea Turtles Points to Conservation Successes and Challenges in Recovering Species

April 5, 2016

NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have reclassified green sea turtles, which occur globally, into 11 distinct population segments under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). All green sea turtles will remain protected under the ESA, and the revised listing will help ensure more effective conservation and recovery efforts. Due in part to the work of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, diverse stakeholders and special places like Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, green sea turtles in Florida will now be listed as threatened instead of endangered.

News Release
Learn More

 


Acuna Cactus photo
Acuna cactus.
Credit: Jim Rorabaugh, USFWS

Service Announces Initial Findings on 29 Endangered Species Act Petitions

March 15, 2016

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has completed initial reviews of 29 petitions to list, delist or reclassify species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Thirteen of these petitions to list species and two to delist species do not present substantial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted. The Service will take no further actions on these petitions. The 16 substantial findings in this batch represent only the first step in a rigorous process by which we will ultimately determine whether the species warrants listing, delisting or reclassification under the ESA.

More Information


Photo of coastal wetland
Coastal wetland.
Credit: Terry Tollefsbol, USFWS.

Service Revises its Policy on Mitigating Impacts of Development to Further Conservation of the Nation's Wildlife and their Habitats

March 7, 2016

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced new actions to mitigate the adverse impacts of land and water development on America’s wildlife and their habitats. A revision of the Service’s Mitigation Policy, which has guided agency recommendations to address these issues since 1981, will provide a broad and flexible framework to facilitate conservation that addresses the potential negative effects of development, while allowing economic activity to continue.

News Release
FAQs
Learn More


Gopher Tortoise photo
Gopher tortoise . Credit: R. Browning, USFWS.

Updated Policy Re-affirms Federal-State Collaborations on Endangered Species Act

February 19, 2016

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service have updated a long-standing policy on the role of state fish and wildlife agencies in implementing the Endangered Species Act. The updated policy re-affirms the commitment of the Services in collaborating with state agencies to more effectively implement the ESA and protect America's imperiled wildlife.

New Release



Federally threatened northern long-eared bat

Protections Finalized for Threatened Northern Long-Eared Bats

January 14, 2016

On January 14, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will publish a final 4(d) rule in the Federal Register for the northern long-eared bat, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA provides flexibility to landowners, land managers, government agencies and others as they conduct activities in northern long-eared bat habitat.  Northern long-eared bats were listed under the ESA as threatened in April 2015 due to the impacts of a deadly disease, white-nose syndrome, which has killed millions of cave-hibernating bats in the East, Midwest and Southeast.

For additional information about the Northern long-eared bat and the Final 4(d) rule go to: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/mammals/nleb/index.html.

News Release


Red-cockaded woodpecker

Service announces draft methodology for priortizing Endangered Species Act reviews

January 14, 2016

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a draft methodology to better identify and prioritize pending Endangered Species Act (ESA) “status reviews,” the process by which the Service determines whether a species that has been petitioned for listing warrants ESA protection. The methodology will assist the Service and its partners in addressing America’s most imperiled wildlife and plant species first, while reinforcing collaboration between the Service and its partners and maximizing transparency throughout the decision-making process. 

“This methodology will help us strategically prioritize work on Endangered Species Act listing petitions to ensure the most urgent wildlife needs are addressed first, while also providing a common sense and defensible path to address all petitions,” said Dan Ashe, Service Director. “The methodology will help us provide greater certainty and transparency to our partners through subsequent development of a publicly available, strategic workplan that reflects our work priorities.”

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Vice President and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley expressed gratitude for the Service’s commitment to working with state fish and wildlife agencies to address the backlog of 12-month petition findings. "This process should help state agencies address their public trust responsibilities with a measure of deliberate or planned conservation engagement,” he said.

News Release


West Indian manatee
West Indian manatee. Credit: S. Whitcraft, USFWS.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Reclassify West Indian Manatee from Endangered to Threatened

January 7, 2016

As a result of significant improvements in its population and habitat conditions, and reductions in direct threats, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today that the West Indian manatee is proposed to be downlisted from endangered to threatened status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposal to downlist the manatee to threatened will not affect federal protections currently afforded by the ESA, and the Service remains committed to conservation actions to fully recover manatee populations.

News Release



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Last updated: January 29, 2018