Virginia Field Office
Northeast Region
News and Highlights

Proposed Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterfly

April 12, 2019: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing the opening of a 60-day public comment period regarding an “enhancement of survival” permit application associated with a proposed Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) for the monarch butterfly on energy and transportation lands. The proposed agreement would involve transportation and energy partners across the lower 48 states and would address conservation needs of the species on millions of acres of rights-of-way and associated lands.

 “This agreement is an unprecedented conservation opportunity,” said Acting Service Midwest Regional Director Charlie Wooley. “More than 30 energy and transmission companies and state departments of transportation are voluntarily committing time and funding to implement monarch-friendly management practices on millions of acres of land. The scale of this proposal makes it the largest of its kind.”

A candidate conservation agreement with assurances (CCAA) is a formal, voluntary agreement between the Service and non-federal landowners to conserve habitat that benefits at-risk species. In return, participating property owners receive assurances that no additional conservation measures will be required if the covered species is listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Service provides these assurances through an “enhancement of survival” permit, giving authorization to participating landowners for take that is incidental to activities covered by the CCAA. Take includes harming, harassing or killing a listed species and is prohibited under the ESA unless a permit is issued.

Under the monarch rights-of-way CCAA, more than 30 companies in the energy and transportation sectors would provide habitat for the species on energy and transportation lands nationwide. Participants would carry out measures to reduce or remove threats to the species caused by ongoing maintenance and modernization activities on rights-of-way.

This proposed agreement is a part of an integrated conservation approach that encourages the creation of new monarch habitat, as well as the maintenance of existing habitat across enrolled lands. Participants include companies and state agencies that manage lands used for electric power generation, transmission and distribution; oil and gas transport; solar energy sites; and transportation. In return, the agreement would provide regulatory assurances to participants if the butterfly were to be protected under the ESA.

“This conservation agreement could potentially provide millions of acres of prime habitat for the monarch butterfly,” said Wooley. “It’s one part of an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to conserving this iconic species. If we can find ways to conserve these areas for monarchs, while providing predictability for industry, we all win.”

Monarch butterflies and other pollinators are declining in numbers due to multiple factors, including habitat loss. The Service is assessing the status of this species and will determine whether it warrants a proposed listing under the ESA.

A notice of availability will publish in the Federal Register on April 15, 2019. This will open a 60-day public comment period regarding the “enhancement of survival” permit application associated with this proposed conservation agreement. The permit applicant is the University of Illinois at Chicago. To review the permit application, visit http://www.regulations.gov and enter docket number FWS–R3–ES–2019–0007 in the search window.

You may also submit comments by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to:

Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2019–0007
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; MS: BPHC
5275 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041-3803

More information regarding the Service’s monarch butterfly conservation efforts can be found here: https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/.


Northern long-eared bat
Northern long-eared bat. Credit: USFWS

Virginia Field Office Project Review Process Updated

April 3, 2019

The Bald Eagle and northern long-eared bat steps have been updated. The Bald Eagle steps have been consolidated into one step and results will not be incorporated in review submissions to the Virginia Field Office. The northern long-eared bat step has been updated to direct project proponents to the new assisted determination key for the NLEB 4(d) rule available in IPaC.

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Missouri Population of Eastern Hellbender Proposed for Endangered Status

Other populations in decline but not currently warranting Endangered Species Act protection

April 3, 2019: After conducting a thorough species status review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that most populations of the eastern hellbender are not in danger of extinction and do not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, the eastern hellbender population in Missouri is a distinct population segment (DPS) and the Service is proposing to list this DPS as endangered.

News release
Eastern hellbender website
Federal Register notice
Blog: Hell-bent on conservation


ashy darter
Credit: Gary Peeples/USFWS

Thanks to Conservation Partnerships, Two Fish and a Snail Do Not Warrant Endangered Species Act Protection

April 3, 2019

Following extensive scientific reviews, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that three animals do not face the threat of extinction now or in the foreseeable future. Accordingly, the ashy darter, Barrens darter and Arkansas mudalia snail do not warrant Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection.

News release


States Receive More Than $1 Billion for Recreation Access, Conservation

Excise Tax Revenues Benefit Fish, Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation and Local Communities

April 1, 2019: Outdoor recreationists who hunt, shoot, fish and boat are providing more than $1 billion this year to support increased outdoor access and wildlife habitat conservation across the United States.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is distributing the funds to all 50 states and U.S. territories today. The funds are generated through excise taxes on hunting, shooting and fishing equipment and boat fuel.

Authorized by Congress through the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, these dollars support critical state conservation and outdoor recreation projects. They are administered through the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program, which is long considered the foundation of fish and wildlife conservation in the United States.

“For many decades funds generated by these programs have consistently supported millions of acres and miles of outdoor recreation access and wildlife habitat in this country,” said Margaret Everson, the Service’s Principal Deputy Director. “Thanks to industry, states and hunters, shooters, anglers and boaters, America’s wildlife and natural resources and the opportunities they provide will be available for generations to come.”

To date the Service has distributed more than $21 billion in apportionments for state conservation and recreation projects. The recipient state wildlife agencies have matched these funds with approximately $7.3 billion throughout the years, primarily through hunting and fishing license revenues.

Click here for the state-by-state listing of the Service’s final apportionment for the Wildlife Restoration Program and here for the Sport Fish Restoration program funds for Fiscal Year 2019.

For more information about the WSFR program visit http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/.


Service Requests Public Input on Proposed Changes to Coastal Barrier Resources System in Six States Affected by Hurricane Sandy

On December 18, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will make available for public review and comment proposed revisions to the boundaries of the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) in Connecticut, Maryland, New York (Long Island), Rhode Island and Virginia. The revisions also affect one CBRS unit in Massachusetts. There will be a 120-day public comment period on the proposed changes.

The proposed changes will help ensure the continued effectiveness of the CBRS in protecting public safety and conserving natural resources and wildlife, while saving American taxpayer money. Since 1982, the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA), under which the CBRS is authorized, has saved millions of dollars in avoided taxpayer spending for construction and repairs to infrastructure in ecologically sensitive and hurricane prone areas along the coast.

CBRA removes federal incentives to develop these areas but imposes no restrictions on development conducted with private, state or local funds.

If adopted by Congress, the revisions will remove areas from the CBRS that were mistakenly included due to outdated, imprecise mapping technologies, and add new qualifying areas. Based on a set of objective mapping criteria, the proposed revisions affect the boundaries of 256 existing CBRS units and propose 54 new units. The proposed changes would remove 643 structures (mostly residential buildings) from the CBRS that were mistakenly included due to mapping errors, and add 96 structures that are located in highly vulnerable areas with high flood risk exposure.

More than half of the structures proposed for addition are on public lands or parks; the remainder are on private land. While new construction on private land within CBRS units does not qualify for federal flood insurance, there is a grandfathering provision that allows structures already built at the time of inclusion into the system to maintain federal flood insurance until such time that the structure is substantially improved or damaged.

Nationally, the CBRS contains 862 geographic units that encompass 3.5 million acres of relatively undeveloped areas along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico coasts.

Undeveloped coastal barriers and wetlands are critical in protecting inland areas from destructive weather forces, providing a buffer against high winds, waves and storm surges. They protect public safety and the substantial investments along mainland coastal communities. For instance, a 2016 study by Lloyd’s Tercentenary Research Foundation showed that wetlands avoided $625 million in direct flood damages during Hurricane Sandy alone.

Coastal barrier ecosystems are also home to vital natural resources such as coastal wetlands that are the drivers of many local coastal economies. They also provide habitat for diverse wildlife, including migratory birds, marine and coastal mammals, fish and invertebrates in wetland, estuarine and marine environments.

The comment period on the proposed revisions closes on April 17, 2019. The proposed boundaries can be viewed on the Service’s website at https://www.fws.gov/cbra/maps/Hurricane-Sandy-Project-Batch-2.html. The website also contains information on how to submit public comments and participate in virtual public meetings to be held via webcast and teleconference. Following the close of the public comment period, the Service will assess comments received, make any appropriate changes, and prepare final recommended maps for transmittal to Congress.

Press release


Candy darter
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

Candy darter protected as endangered

November 20, 2018

Following a review of the best available scientific information, peer review and public comment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is listing the candy darter as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The darter is found only in five watersheds in Virginia and West Virginia, and nearly half of the populations documented since 1932 have disappeared.

The Service is also proposing critical habitat designations for the darter in the five watersheds in which it lives. Critical habitat designation would not impact landowner activities that do not involve federal funding or require federal permits.

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Black-capped petrel.Credit: USFWS
Black-capped petrel. Credit: USFWS

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes Endangered Species Act protection for “little devil” Caribbean seabird

October 5, 2018 - The future is uncertain for the black-capped petrel, a seabird that breeds in remote mountains on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola and forages in open ocean waters up the U.S. Eastern Seaboard as far north as off the coast of Virginia.

After reviewing the best available scientific and commercial data in a peer-reviewed species status assessment (SSA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined the petrel is a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), meaning it is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

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Atlantic Pigtoe, Tar River basin Credit: USFWS
Atlantic Pigtoe. Credit: USFWS

Service proposes threatened status for declining mussel, Atlantic pigtoe

October 10, 2018 - The Atlantic pigtoe, a freshwater mussel native to waters from Virginia to Georgia, has lost more than half of its historical range, and remaining populations may not be sustainable over time. To help this species and its habitat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to extend protection for it as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Service also has identified areas that are essential for conservation of this freshwater mussel and proposes to designate 539 river miles in 16 units as critical habitat. Designation of critical habitat applies only to federal activities; this designation on private land has no impact on private landowner activities that do not require federal funding or federal permits.

Comment due date: December 10, 2018.


Eastern Black Rail.Credit: USFWS
Eastern Black Rail. Credit: USFWS

Service Proposes to List the Eastern Black Rail as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act

October 5, 2018 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners are working to protect a small, secretive marsh bird that is in steep decline. Some populations of the eastern black rail along the Atlantic coast have dropped by as much as 90 percent, and with a relatively small total population remaining across the eastern United States, the Service is proposing to list the subspecies as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

After a review of the best available scientific and commercial information, the Service determined the eastern black rail meets the definition of threatened because it is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. A peer- reviewed species status assessment, produced by the Service, provides a biological risk assessment using the best available information on threats to the subspecies and evaluates its current condition. It also forecasts the eastern black rail’s biological status under varying future conditions.

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Service Provides $1 Million to States to Combat Bat-Killing Fungal Disease

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is providing much needed support in the fight against the bat-killing fungal disease white-nose syndrome (WNS) through an additional $1 million in grants to 39 states and the District of Columbia. WNS has killed millions of North American bats in recent years, decimating many populations and putting several species at additional risk of extinction.

Bats are crucial to our nation’s farmers and foresters, helping control pest insects such as beetles and locusts, and significantly reducing the amount of toxic pesticides that would otherwise be needed. Studies estimate bats save farmers at least $3.7 billion per year in lost crop revenue and pesticide savings.

Funds will help states support a national strategy for the disease, which includes increasing bat survival rates, preventing further spread and preparing for the potential arrival of the disease in new areas.

Press release


Interior Announces More Than $36 Million to Boost Wetland, Waterfowl Conservation, Access to Public Lands

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, chaired by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, today approved $23.8 million in grants for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to conserve or restore almost 135,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds in 17 states throughout the United States. The announcement was made by Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, who led today’s meeting on behalf of Secretary Zinke.

The grants, made through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), will be matched by over $60 million in partner funds. NAWCA grants ensure waterfowl and other birds are protected throughout their lifecycles.

“These projects provide tens of thousands of acres of hunting, fishing and recreational access, while strengthening important migration corridors and local economies,” said Deputy Secretary Bernhardt.

Press release


Dr. James "Jim" Montgomery Jr. collects waterbird data.Credit: USFWS
Dr. James "Jim" Montgomery Jr. collects waterbird data. Credit: USFWS

Thank You to Volunteers Everywhere

April 19, 2018 - Last year, we highlighted a group of “super volunteers” who had donated more than 10,000 hours to FWS and conservation. Recently, we learned that one of those super volunteers had passed an incredible threshold. Jim Montgomery has been volunteering at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico longer—since 1985—than any currently serving volunteer or staff member at Bitter Lake. In January, Jim passed the 25,000-volunteer-hour mark at Bitter Lake across his 33-year tenure (Related: 25,000 hours and still counting: A faithful volunteer at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge).

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Yellow lance at Swift Creek, Tar River basin Credit: NCWRC
Yellow lance at Swift Creek, Tar River basin Credit: NCWRC

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lists the Yellow Lance Mussel as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act

April 2, 2018 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the yellow lance mussel will be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) following a rigorous evaluation of the best available science. Partnerships with state wildlife agencies and others have already been established to work toward improving habitat conditions for the mussel, which is one of nature’s most diligent water filterers.

Press release
FAQ
Species Profile
Species Status Assessment
Federal Register Reading Room


Coastal barriers serve as important habitat for fish and <br />wildlife and as natural buffers for vulnerable mainland communities.
Coastal barriers serve as important habitat for fish and
wildlife and as natural buffers for vulnerable mainland communities.
Credit: USFWS

Proposed Changes to Coastal Barrier Resources System Increase Accuracy

March 12, 2018 - Using a rigorous set of objective mapping criteria, the Service has made available for public review and comment proposed revisions to the boundaries of the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System in Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey.  The changes are designed to fix technical mapping errors and add qualifying areas to the CBRS.

News release
Links


Kinder Morgan Settlement Agreement

January 29, 2018 - Read the full document here. (PDF-644KB)


Venus flytrap. Photo by Jennifer Koches, USFWS
Venus flytrap. Photo by Jennifer Koches, USFWS. Credit: USFWS

Petitions to Federally Protect Five Wildlife Species Move Forward to Next Review Phase

December 19, 2017 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed initial reviews of Endangered Species Act (ESA) petitions for five species and found that each presents substantial information that the petitioned action may be warranted. As a result, the oblong rocksnail, tricolored bat, sicklefin chub, sturgeon chub and Venus flytrap will each undergo a thorough status review to determine whether or not they warrant protection under the ESA.

Learn More


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Archived News and Highlights - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015

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Last updated: April 19, 2019