Service Proposes Endangered Species Act Protections for Central Texas Aquatic Moss

Press Release
Service Proposes Endangered Species Act Protections for Central Texas Aquatic Moss

With only a single remaining population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is proposing to list the South Llano Springs moss (Donrichardsia macroneuron) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service is also proposing to designate 0.48 acres of critical habitat in Edwards County, Texas. A 60-day public comment period will be initiated upon publication of these proposals in the Federal Register

ESA protections for the South Llano Springs moss will help raise awareness about the threats to the species and generate timely conservation partnerships on its behalf. Primary threats to the moss include groundwater pumping from the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer and reduced and interrupted spring flow resulting from an increase in the severity and duration of droughts and rain events. The encroachment of non-native plants, herbicide use and reduced water quality also threaten the species. These threats are magnified by there being only one small population remaining. 

“Our efforts to conserve this unique plant will also help protect the South Llano River watershed and the vital water resources that local communities count on,” said Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, Austin Ecological Services Field Office. “The Service looks forward to continuing to collaborate with private landowners and stakeholder groups to protect the South Llano Springs moss and the water resources that benefit people and wildlife alike.”

The South Llano Springs moss grows on submerged or partially submerged rocks in the mineral rich, spring-fed South Llano River. Its deep, loosely interwoven mats are blue-green to blackish-brown when shaded and yellow-green when exposed to sun.

The proposed critical habitat of 0.48 acres in the Upper South Llano River at Seven Hundred Springs in northeastern Edwards County is entirely on private land.

Critical habitat is defined by the ESA as the geographic areas containing features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and which may require special management considerations or protection. Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership, establish a refuge or preserve and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits.

Federal agencies that undertake, fund or permit activities that may affect critical habitat are required to consult with the Service to ensure such actions do not adversely modify or destroy designated critical habitat.

The Service will accept comments received or postmarked by or before Nov. 29, 2021. For more information on these proposals, what to comment on, or how to submit comments, see the Federal Register notice on our web site at

America’s fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. The Service is actively engaged with conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species program, go to