Press Release
Service proposes Endangered Species Act protection for two native freshwater mussels
Protection proposed for Texas heelsplitter in Texas and Louisiana pigtoe in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Arkansas
Media Contacts

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the Texas heelsplitter as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and is proposing critical habitat. The Service is also proposing to list the Louisiana pigtoe as threatened with a 4(d) rule and is proposing critical habitat. To inform these decisions, the Service reached out to species experts, including Tribes, state wildlife biologists, universities and federal agency researchers to collect information on the status of these species.

“The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for fish, wildlife and plants and has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species, as well as promoted the recovery of many others and conserved the habitats upon which they depend,” said Southwest Regional Director Amy Lueders. “Native freshwater mussel species are part of the web of life and play an important role in improving water quality in rivers and streams in the Southwest.”

The proposed 4(d) rule for the Louisiana pigtoe would provide private landowners, river authorities and others increased flexibility as they carry out actions intended to help the species recover, like water management, channel restoration, and surveying and habitat enhancement projects in areas where the species may be present.

The critical habitat designation identifies areas that are particularly important for the conservation of the species. It does not mean activities cannot occur in the area, only that federal agencies must consult with the Service if they are conducting, funding, or permitting activities that may adversely affect the species or their habitat. Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or 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.

The Texas heelsplitter occurs in streams and rivers of the Trinity, Neches and Sabine river drainages in east Texas. The proposed critical habitat includes 831.8 river miles in 31 Texas counties.

The Louisiana pigtoe occurs in multiple river drainages across five states:

  • East Texas – Big Cypress-Sulphur, Neches-Angelina, Sabine and San Jacinto river basins.
  • Louisiana – Calcasieu, Sabine and Pearl river basins.
  • West Mississippi – Pearl River.
  • Southeast Oklahoma – Little River.
  • Southwest Arkansas – Cossatot, Saline, Rolling Fork and Little rivers.

The Service is proposing to designate 1028.2 river miles of critical habitat for the Louisiana pigtoe in the following:

  • Three Arkansas counties.
  • Six Louisiana parishes.
  • Two Mississippi counties.
  • One Oklahoma county.
  • Twenty-One Texas counties.

The Service is working with diverse stakeholders to identify, develop and implement voluntary conservation efforts for these species. These voluntary agreements provide non-federal landowners and developers the opportunity to implement conservation practices that address specific threats. They provide assurances that if a species is listed, non-federal landowners can continue to manage their land as outlined in their agreements with no additional requirements.

The Service works with private landowners through multiple mechanisms including the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Landowner Incentives Program to enhance and restore habitat for fish and wildlife species in the watersheds where these freshwater mussels occur. The Working Lands for Wildlife Program, developed between the Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, promotes agricultural best management practices that benefit mussels. This program provides financial incentives and regulatory assurances for participating landowners.

Today’s announcement comes as the ESA turns 50 years old in 2023. Throughout the year, the Department of the Interior will celebrate the ESA’s importance in preventing imperiled species’ extinction, promoting the recovery of wildlife and conserving the habitats upon which they depend. The ESA has been highly effective and credited with saving 99% of listed species from extinction. Thus far, more than 100 species of plants and animals have been delisted based on recovery or reclassified from endangered to threatened based on improved conservation status, and hundreds more species are stable or improving thanks to the collaborative actions of Tribes, federal agencies, state and local governments, conservation organizations and private citizens.

As part of the proposal, the Service is opening a 60-day public comment period and will host a virtual informational meeting followed by a public hearing on May 2, 2023. A final decision on whether to list the two species will be made approximately 12 months after this proposal.

The rule for the proposal will be published in the Federal Register on March 20, 2023. The rule and maps can be found at by searching Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2022-0026.

The Service is requesting comments or information from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. Comments must be received within 60 days, on or before May 19, 2023. You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: In the Search box, enter FWS-R2-ES-2022-0026, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, check the Proposed Rules box to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”

(2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2022-0026, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

On Tuesday, May 2, 2023, the Service will hold a virtual informational meeting from 5-6 p.m. CST, followed by a public hearing from 6:30-8 p.m. CST. Anyone wishing to attend or make an oral statement at the public hearing must register before the hearing at The use of a virtual public hearing is consistent with our regulations at 50 CFR 424.16(c)(3).

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What actions is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service taking?

A:  The Service is proposing five actions under the Endangered Species Act associated with two mussel species:

  1. Protecting the Texas heelsplitter as an endangered species.
  2. Designating 831.8 miles of critical habitat in east Texas to conserve the Texas heelsplitter.
  3. Protecting the Louisiana pigtoe as a threatened species.
  4. Designating 1028.2 miles of critical habitat in east Texas, Louisiana, west Mississippi, southeast Oklahoma, and southwest Arkansas to conserve the Louisiana pigtoe.
  5. Implementing a special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA to streamline and exempt from the regulatory process certain management actions that benefit the Louisiana pigtoe (i.e., certain management actions benefitting the species would be exempt from section 9 “take” prohibitions).
Q: What is the science behind these decisions?

A: The proposal to list these species under the ESA is based on the best scientific and commercial data available and the recently completed Species Status Assessment. Biologists from the Service developed the report with input from species experts and partners. Our SSA analyzed individual, population, and species requirements, as well as factors affecting the species’ survival and their current conditions, to assess the species’ current and future viability in terms of resilience, redundancy, and representation.

After careful examination of the best scientific information available for the two freshwater mussels, including estimates of current and future conditions, the Service determined that the Texas heelsplitter meets the ESA definition of endangered and the Louisiana pigtoe meets the definition of threatened.

Q: What is the difference between an endangered and threatened species under the ESA?

A: The ESA defines “endangered” as a species that is currently in danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a significant portion of its range. “Threatened” is defined as a species that is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.

Threatened status provides the Service and state agencies increased flexibility when managing a species and issuing “take” permits. (Take is defined by the ESA as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect a federally listed species, or attempt to engage in any such conduct.) The Service may issue permits for take for (1) scientific purposes, (2) enhancing propagation or survival, or (3) incidental take when done under the provisions of a Service-approved habitat conservation plan, (4) zoological exhibition, (5) educational purposes, or (6) special purposes consistent with the purposes of the ESA.

Section 4(d) of the ESA allows the Service to implement special regulations that tailor the take protections for threatened species if special regulations are necessary and advisable to conserve the species. These special regulations cannot be developed for endangered species.

Q: Where are the mussel species found, and what are the threats to the species?

A:  The Texas heelsplitter occurs in five remaining populations in three adjacent river basins (Neches, Sabine, and Trinity river basins) in east Texas. The Texas heelsplitter can tolerate impoundments and has been found in several east Texas reservoirs.

The Louisiana pigtoe occurs in 13 remaining populations in seven river basins across five states, including portions of east Texas (Big Cypress-Sulphur, Neches-Angelina, Sabine, San Jacinto, and Trinity river basins), Louisiana (Calcasieu, Sabine, and Pearl river systems), West Mississippi (Pearl River), Southeast Oklahoma (Little River), and Southwest Arkansas (Cossatot, Saline, Rolling Fork, and Little rivers).

Both species of mussels have declined significantly in overall distribution and abundance. Threats are primarily related to habitat loss or degradation due to the impairment of water quality, altered hydrology, the accumulation of fine sediments, and habitat fragmentation, all of which are exacerbated by the effects of climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

Learn more about climate change

Q: What is critical habitat?

A:  Critical habitat identifies geographic areas occupied at the time a species is listed that contain the physical or biological features essential to the species’ conservation. Critical habitat may also include areas outside the geographic area the species occupied when listed that are essential for conserving the species. The ESA defines “conservation” as the actions leading to a species’ eventual recovery so that it no longer requires ESA protections.

Critical habitat provides protection against “destruction or adverse modification” of habitat essential to the species from actions carried out, funded, or authorized by a federal agency, as required by the ESA under section 7. Under such consultations, the Service reviews federal actions for how they affect the “physical or biological features essential to conserve a listed species” and that habitat’s ability to support the species throughout its lifecycle and to meet the species’ recovery needs.

Designating critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or another conservation area conservation area
A conservation area or wildlife management area is a type of national wildlife refuge that consists primarily or entirely of conservation easements on private lands. These conservation easements support private landowner efforts to protect important habitat for fish and wildlife. There are 13 conservation areas and nine wildlife management areas in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Learn more about conservation area
. A critical habitat designation identifies areas that are important to conserve federally listed threatened or endangered species. A critical habitat designation requires federal agencies to consult with the Service on any of their actions that may affect the designated critical habitat. The Service can then recommend ways to minimize any adverse effects. It imposes no requirements on state or private actions on state or private lands where no federal funding, permits, or approvals are required.

Q: What is the purpose of designating critical habitat?

A: Critical habitat designation is a tool used to identify areas that are important to the recovery of a species. It also notifies federal agencies of areas that must be given special consideration when they are planning, implementing, or funding activities. Federal agencies are required to consult with the Service on their actions that may affect critical habitat. A critical habitat designation has no effect when a federal agency is not involved. For example, a private landowner undertaking a project that involves no federal funding or permit has no additional responsibilities if the property falls within critical habitat boundaries.

Q: How did the Service determine which areas to propose as critical habitat for the mussels?

A: We reviewed the available information about the biological needs of the species and habitat characteristics where these species are located.All areas proposed as critical habitat for the mussels contain one or more of the physical or biological features essential for the conservation of the species. When determining critical habitat, biologists consider habitat features necessary for all life stages and the successful reproduction of the species. Habitat areas essential for mussel conservation are those that provide the biological needs of reproducing, feeding, sheltering, dispersal, and genetic exchange.

The features essential to the conservation of the Texas heelsplitter and Louisiana pigtoe may require special management considerations or protections to reduce the following threats: increased erosion and movement of fine sediments; degradation of water quality; altered hydrology from inundation, flow supplementation causing increased scouring and stream bank collapse, or flow loss; predation and collection; and barriers to fish movement.

Q: What areas is the Service proposing to designate as critical habitat for the mussel species?

A: The Service is proposing to designate approximately 832 river miles (river mi) (1,339 km) in three units as critical habitat for Texas heelsplitter and approximately 1,028 river mi (1,654 km) for the Louisiana pigtoe. All units are currently or have recently been occupied by their respective species. The three areas we propose as critical habitat for Texas heelsplitter include portions of the following basins: Trinity River (TX), Sabine River (TX), and Neches River (TX). The six areas we propose as critical habitat for Louisiana pigtoe include portions of the following basins: Little River (AR/OK), Sabine River (LA/TX), Neches River (TX), San Jacinto River (TX), Calcasieu River (LA), and Pearl River (LA/MS). For detailed descriptions and maps of the critical habitat, view the rule for the proposal here: by searching Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2022-0026.

Q: Did the ESA require an economic analysis to be prepared for the proposed critical habitat? 

A: Yes. A draft economic analysis was prepared for the proposed critical habitat that estimates the incremental costs associated with the proposed designation. The draft economic analysis and other information about the mussels are available by contacting the Arlington Ecological Services Field Office at 817-277-1100 or

Q: Do listed species with designated critical habitat receive more protection than listed species without it?

A: A critical habitat designation does not set up a preserve or refuge. It only affects activities with federal involvement, such as federal funding or a federal permit. Listed species and their habitats are protected by the ESA whether or not they are in areas designated as critical habitat.

Designation of critical habitat can help focus conservation activities for a listed species by identifying areas that contain the physical and biological features that are essential for the conservation of that species. Critical habitat also alerts the public as well as land management agencies to the importance of these areas.

Q: Do federal agencies have to consult with the Service outside critical habitat areas?

A: Yes,even when there is not a critical habitat designation, federal agencies must consult with the Service if an action they fund, authorize, or permit may affect listed species or critical habitat.

Q: What is a 4(d) rule, and what does the proposed 4(d) rule mean for the Louisiana pigtoe?

A: Our proposed rule under section 4(d) of the ESA outlines prohibitions necessary and advisable for the conservation of the Louisiana pigtoe. In this proposed 4(d) rule we provide prohibitions that are necessary for the conservation of the species but also propose exemptions for beneficial activities we determined will have minor or temporary effects and are not anticipated to affect the viability of Louisiana pigtoe populations, including habitat and population restoration, mussel surveys, and certain water management activities.

Under the proposed 4(d) rule, the following activities would be allowed:

  • Channel restoration projects that create natural, physically stable, ecologically functioning streams, as well as projects that remove barriers to fish passage fish passage
    Fish passage is the ability of fish or other aquatic species to move freely throughout their life to find food, reproduce, and complete their natural migration cycles. Millions of barriers to fish passage across the country are fragmenting habitat and leading to species declines. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Fish Passage Program is working to reconnect watersheds to benefit both wildlife and people.

    Learn more about fish passage
    (i.e., low head dams, perched culverts, and other impoundments).
  • Bioengineering methods such as streambank stabilization using live stakes (live, vegetative cuttings inserted or tamped into the ground in a manner that allows the stake to take root and grow), live fascines (live branch cuttings, usually willows, bound together into long, cigar-shaped bundles), or brush layering (cuttings or branches of easily rooted tree species layered between successive lifts of soil fill).
  • Soil and water conservation practices and riparian riparian
    Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

    Learn more about riparian
    and adjacent upland habitat management activities that restore in-stream habitats for the species, restore adjacent riparian habitats that enhance stream habitats for the species, stabilize degraded and eroding stream banks to limit sedimentation and scour of the species’ habitats, and restore or enhance nearby upland habitats to limit sedimentation of the species’ habitats and comply with conservation practice standards and specifications, and technical guidelines developed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. 
  • Freshwater mussel surveys to inform species distribution and abundance across the range of the species.

We cannot restore, protect, and reconnect the habitat for a mussel species like the Louisiana pigtoe without the assistance of partners. Our proposed 4(d) rule is meant to focus our resources on the actions that are most important to conserve the species while avoiding regulation of activities that may cause small amounts of take but are not significant issues for the overall conservation of the species or that provide a conservation benefit for the species. Our priority is to work with our partners and private landowners to reverse its decline and help the species coexist with those who make their living from our rivers and streams or otherwise rely on shared waterways for water supply, recreation, and other uses.

Q: What conservation efforts are currently being undertaken for the mussels?

A: The level of interest among stakeholders, regulatory agencies, and partners to better understand the status, threats, and conservation of freshwater mussels in Texas has increased significantly since 2017 when the Service initiated reviews of several species for potential listing under the ESA. This led to improved communication among interested parties and multiple partnerships seeking to conduct research and improve our understanding of the health and distribution of mussel populations across Texas, as well as increased efforts to protect and conserve known populations.

In Louisiana, streams, where the Louisiana pigtoe is known to occur, are protected by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Scenic Streams Program. Additionally, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks completed a drainage-wide mussel survey for the Pearl River basin (results pending) to help document the status of the population.

The Louisiana pigtoe and Texas heelsplitter are both listed as Threatened by the state of Texas.  Due to recent declines in freshwater mussels, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has designated areas as Mussel Sanctuaries in portions of river basins occupied by these mussels and has developed mussel survey and relocation protocols in cooperation with the Service to assist project proponents with avoiding impacts to sensitive aquatic species.

Although there are currently no formal conservation agreements in place designed to specifically provide benefits to Texas heelsplitter or Louisiana pigtoe, the Service is in discussions with multiple stakeholders who are interested in strengthening partnerships to conserve rare species; including several river authorities that are in the process of developing Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances. The agreements, if finalized, would implement voluntary conservation actions in river basins that would be affected in the future if the Service determined listing was warranted for either species.

Additionally, several stakeholders have proactively funded research to ensure the Service has the best available information upon which to base a listing decision and they should be commended for their efforts to improve the science of freshwater mussels in Texas. Interested stakeholders and potential future conservation partners include the Trinity River Authority, Lower Neches Valley Authority, Northeast Texas Municipal Water District, Sabine River Authority, the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Tarrant Regional Water District, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, and others.  

Some voluntary habitat restoration projects have been completed on private lands within the river basins currently known to be occupied by one or both species. These restoration projects include upland and riparian habitat enhancements coordinated by our partners including the state fish and wildlife agencies, and the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. There are also regulatory mechanisms in place to protect water quality and quantity, such as protections afforded by the Clean Water Act, which are implemented by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana departments of environmental quality with oversite by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Although these regulations are in place and provide some level of protection, population declines exhibited by some species of freshwater mussels indicate that in some cases, they may not be sufficient to prevent extinction.  

Q: How would the mussel species benefit from an ESA listing?

A: Species listed under the ESA receive special protection under federal law that prohibits the take of individuals wherever they occur; violations are punishable through civil and criminal penalties.  Species listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA also benefit from conservation measures that include recognition of threats to the species, implementation of recovery actions, and federal protection from harmful practices.

Recognition under the ESA results in public awareness and conservation by federal, state, Tribal, and local agencies, as well as private organizations and individuals. The ESA encourages cooperation with the states and other partners to conserve listed species.

The ESA also requires the Service to develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation of threatened and endangered species. Recovery plans outline actions that are needed to improve the species’ status such that it no longer requires protection under the ESA. The Service develops and implements these plans in partnership with the species experts; other federal, state, and local agencies; Tribes; nongovernmental organizations; academia; and other stakeholders. Recovery plans also establish a framework for partners to coordinate their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of implementing recovery tasks. Examples of typical recovery actions include habitat protection, habitat restoration (e.g., restoration of stream flow), research, captive propagation, and reintroduction.

Under the ESA, federal agencies must ensure actions they approve, fund, or carry out do not jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or destroy its critical habitat. In addition, under the ESA, endangered animal species cannot be killed, hunted, collected, injured, or otherwise subjected to harm. Endangered species cannot be purchased or sold in interstate or foreign commerce without a federal permit.

Q: Would water management, grazing, or oil and gas activities in the rivers and streams where the mussels are found be affected by the proposed listing?

A: If the mussels are added to the list of threatened and endangered species following the publication of a final rule in the Federal Register, then the Section 9 prohibitions would apply, subject to a final 4(d) rule for threatened species. Thus, any activities resulting in the take of listed mussels, directly or indirectly, would require a permit under Section 10 of the ESA. Federal agencies are required to consult on the effects of their actions on threatened and endangered species under Section 7 Section 7
Section 7 Consultation The Endangered Species Act (ESA) directs all Federal agencies to work to conserve endangered and threatened species and to use their authorities to further the purposes of the Act. Section 7 of the Act, called "Interagency Cooperation," is the mechanism by which Federal agencies ensure the actions they take, including those they fund or authorize, do not jeopardize the existence of any listed species.

Learn more about Section 7
of the ESA. Regulatory assurances, including coverage for take that is incidental to otherwise lawful activities, can be provided through Section 10 permits (Habitat Conservation Plans, Safe Harbor Agreements, and Candidate Conservation Agreements) and Section 7 Biological Opinions.

Q: Why are freshwater mussels important?

A: Mussels are biological indicators of healthy streams and rivers that benefit people and wildlife. The presence of diverse and reproducing mussel populations indicates healthy ecosystems, good fishing, and good drinking water quality for humans and wildlife.

Mussels perform important ecological functions. They are natural filters, and by feeding on algae, plankton, suspended detritus, and silts, they help purify the aquatic system. Mussels are also an important food source for many species of wildlife including otters, raccoons, muskrats, herons, egrets, and some fish. 

Q: What information is the Service requesting?

A: Any final actions (listing or proposal withdrawal) resulting from the proposed rule will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available. It is our goal to ensure these determinations are as accurate and as effective as possible. To assist in that endeavor, we particularly seek comments concerning:

  1. The species’ biology, range, and population trends, including:
    1. Biological or ecological requirements of the species, including habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering.
    2. Genetics and taxonomy.
    3. Historical and current range, including distribution patterns.
    4. Historical and current population levels, and current and projected trends.
    5. Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, their habitat, or both.
  2. Factors that may affect the continued existence of the species, which may include habitat modification or destruction, overutilization, disease, predation, the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, or other natural or manmade factors.
  3. Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning any threats (or lack thereof) to these species and existing regulations that may be addressing those threats.
  4. Additional information concerning the historical and current status, range, distribution, and population size of these species, including the locations of any additional populations of these species.
  5. Information on regulations that are necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the Louisiana pigtoe and that the Service can consider in developing a 4(d) rule for the species. Information concerning the extent to which we should include any of the section 9 prohibitions in the 4(d) rule or whether any other forms of take should be excepted from the prohibitions in the 4(d) rule.
  6. The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as “critical habitat” under section 4 of the ESA(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), including information to inform the following factors that the regulations identify as reasons why the designation of critical habitat may be not prudent:
    1. The species is threatened by taking or other human activity and identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the degree of such threat to the species.
    2. The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of a species’ habitat or range is not a threat to the species or threats to the species’ habitat stem solely from causes that cannot be addressed through management actions resulting from consultations under section 7(a)(2) of the ESA.
    3. Areas within the jurisdiction of the United States provide no more than negligible conservation value, if any, for a species occurring primarily outside the jurisdiction of the United States.
    4. No areas meet the definition of critical habitat.
  7. Specific information on:
    1. The amount and distribution of Texas heelsplitter and Louisiana pigtoe habitat.
    2. What areas, that were occupied at the time of listing and that contain the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species, should be included in the designation and why.
    3. Special management considerations or protection that may be needed in critical habitat areas we are proposing, including managing the potential effects of climate change.
    4. What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential for the conservation of the species? We particularly seek comments:
      1. Regarding whether occupied areas are adequate for the conservation of the species.
      2. Providing specific information regarding whether or not unoccupied areas would, with reasonable certainty, contribute to the conservation of the species and contain at least one physical or biological feature essential to the conservation of the species.
  8. Land use designations and current or planned activities in the subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed critical habitat.
  9. Any probable economic, national security, or other relevant impacts of designating any area that may be included in the final designation, and the related benefits of including or excluding specific areas.
  10. Information on the extent to which the description of probable economic impacts in the draft economic analysis is a reasonable estimate of the likely economic impacts.
  11. Whether any specific areas we are proposing for critical habitat designation should be considered for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the ESA and whether the benefits of potentially excluding any specific area outweigh the benefits of including that area under section 4(b)(2) of the ESA. If you think we should exclude any additional areas, please provide credible information regarding the existence of a meaningful economic or other relevant impact supporting a benefit of exclusion.
  12. Whether we could improve or modify our approach to designating critical habitat in any way to provide for greater public participation and understanding, or to better accommodate public concerns and comments.
Q: How can the public submit information on the proposal?

A: We encourage the public, academia, federal and state agencies, industry, and other stakeholders to review the proposal and provide comments. Our decision to list the mussel species or withdraw our proposal will be based on the best available science. A final decision to list or withdraw the proposal is typically made within one year after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

Written comments and information concerning the proposed listing, critical habitat, and 4(d) rules will be accepted until May 19, 2023, and may be submitted by one of the following methods:

  • Electronically:  Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: In the Search box, enter FWS-R2-ES-2022-0026 which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”
  • By hard copy:  Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2022-0026; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.      

The Service will post all comments on This generally means the agency will post any personal information provided throughout the process. The Service is not able to accept email or faxes.

On May 2, 2023, the Service will hold a virtual informational meeting from 56 p.m. CT, followed by a public hearing from 6:30–8 p.m. CT. Anyone wishing to attend or make an oral statement at the public hearing must register before the hearing. For the May 2, 2023 informational meeting/public hearing, please register at

For additional information, contact Omar Bocanegra, Acting Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arlington Texas Ecological Services Field Office, 501 West Felix Street, Suite 1105, Fort Worth, Texas, 76115. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339.

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Aquatic animals
Endangered and/or Threatened species