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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Partners Break Ground on Theodore Roosevelt Visitor Center

October 12, 2016

A white visitors center sits on a grassy hill behind a
Rendering of new Visitor’s Center by Centennial.

ONWARD, MS — Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and U.S. Senator Thad Cochran joined David Viker of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife Mississippi representatives and other partners to break ground for a 5,000 square-foot Theodore Roosevelt Visitor Center. The future visitor center will be located at the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge.

The visitor center will recognize President Roosevelt’s conservation legacy and the importance of the Mississippi Delta’s diverse wildlife and natural resources. It will honor President Roosevelt’s famous bear hunt of 1902. President Roosevelt teamed up with freed slave and renowned hunter Holt Collier in pursuit of Louisiana black bear. The president’s refusal to kill a restrained male bear during the hunt was widely publicized at the time and resulted in the creation of a stuffed toy known today as the teddy bear. The future visitor center is located on property near the site of the 1902 hunt.

“Today’s groundbreaking marks the culmination of more than a decade of collaboration and cooperation between the Service and its partners to ensure President Roosevelt’s conservation legacy endures,” said Viker, the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System chief in the Southeast Region. “The Theodore Roosevelt Visitor Center is becoming a reality because of the unwavering commitment of Senator Cochran, Wildlife Mississippi, and numerous other supporters.”

Successful Recovery and Removal from Endangered Species Act of Native Kentucky Plant a Victory for Conservation Partners

State of Kentucky and U.S. Forest Service played crucial role in recovering the white-haired goldenrod, adding to growing list of ESA successes

October 7, 2016

A deep green leafy plant with bright yellow flowers.
White-haired goldenrod. Photo by John MacGregor, KY Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

When Mike Oetker, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Deputy Regional Director, hiked with biologists from three agencies in the Daniel Boone National Forest, it only took a few minutes to understand why the white-haired goldenrod could be removed from the list of federally protected plants. Where the once-rare Kentucky plant had disappeared just a few years previous, it was now found blooming in abundance. Oetker’s observations have been validated scientifically by Service biologists, demonstrating recovery has been achieved.

The white-haired goldenrod is only found in and under sandstone rock shelters or sandstone cliffs with overhanging ledges in the Red River Gorge region of eastern Kentucky. When it was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1988, primary threats included loss of habitat due to recreational activities, a proposed reservoir project, and vegetation changes in surrounding forests. There are also no state laws protecting rare plants in Kentucky.

Following the ESA listing, the Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission and the Service went to work researching its needs, reducing or eliminating primary threats, protecting and maintaining habitat, and regularly monitoring populations.

Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Listing Four South Florida Plants as Threatened or Endangered

October 7, 2016

A small shrub with pink stems and green foliage covered in thousands of tiny hairs.
Pineland sandmat. J.Possley, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

VERO BEACH, FL — Four plants only found in Miami-Dade, Collier, and Monroe Counties are being proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

A shrub, Everglades bully, a grass, Florida pineland crabgrass, and an herb, pineland sandmat, are being proposed for listing as threatened, meaning these plants are considered likely to become endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their range. In addition, another shrub, Florida prairie-clover, is being proposed for listing as endangered, meaning the prairie-clover is considered in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

“The populations of these four plants have declined about 80 percent over the past two decades,” said Cindy Dohner, Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Habitat loss and modification are the primary threats these plants face.”

Endangered Species Act Protection Not Needed for Seven Southeastern Species

October 6, 2016

A biologist holds a large yellow fish with red fin tips on the bank of a river in front of a downstream dam.
North Carolina biologist TR Russ holding an sicklefin redhorse. Photo by Mark Cantrell, USFWS.

Responding to requests to add them to the federal threatened and endangered species list, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that the Louisville cave beetle, Tatum Cave beetle, black mudalia, sicklefin redhorse, Arkansas darter, and highlands tiger beetle do not need such protection. A plant species, Hirst Brothers’ panic grass listing is not warranted as it has been determined that it is not a taxonomically distinct species and does not meet the definition of a species under the Endangered Species Act.

“After investigating these seven species in the field and reviewing the best available science, we determined these species do not need the protection of the Endangered Species Act,” said Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “Some species are more abundant than previously thought or do not face a level of threat that would warrant listing. One species needs more scientific study, and another, unfortunately is believed to be extinct.”

All seven of these species were candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). After a thorough review of past and current information, including extensive surveys, they have been removed from the candidate list.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Biological Opinion for Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin

October 5, 2016

A large, dinosaur like fish with ridges on it's back and two small feelers extending from it's mouth.
Gulf sturgeon. Photo by Kayla Kimmel, USFWS.

PANAMA CITY, FL — Future water control operations as outlined in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed updated Water Control Manual will not threaten the continued existence of federally protected mussels and the Gulf sturgeon found in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the same time determined in a Biological Opinion that the updated plan will not adversely modify critical habitat designated for those listed species.

This biological opinion completes the Service’s consultation with the Corps, which is required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on the updated water management plan that guides its operation of five federal dams and reservoirs in the basin. The Biological Opinion is based on the best available science and focuses on protecting the Gulf Sturgeon and three mussels listed under the ESA.

Service Proposes Endangered Status and Critical Habitat for Alabama’s Black Warrior Waterdog

Also Provides Economic Analysis

October 5, 2016

A light purple salamander with dark spots and tufts above it's front legs.
Black Warrior waterdog. Photo by Joseph Jenkins, Alabama Natural Heritage Program.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to protect the Black Warrior waterdog as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because of low population numbers, habitat fragmentation, and poor water quality in the Black Warrior River Basin.  An endangered species is considered in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

At the same time, the Service also is proposing to designate 669 river miles within 11 tributaries of the Black Warrior River Basin as critical habitat.  The Service is including a draft economic analysis for this proposed action.   The public is invited to submit comments on all of these actions through a 60-day comment period ending December 5, 2016.

The Black Warrior waterdog is not the only species struggling to survive in the Black Warrior River Basin.  Fifteen other aquatic species are currently federally protected in the basin’s rivers and streams, including snails, fish, mussels, turtles, and amphibians.  The flattened musk turtle, federally-listed as threatened, has habitat needs similar to the waterdog, and the two species’ ranges overlap.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Extends Protections to Rare Mussel in Suwannee River Basin

October 5, 2016

Two small dark gray mussels with striations on a red towel next to a ruler for scale.
Suwannee moccasinshells. Photo by USFWS.

The Suwannee moccasinshell’s range and numbers have declined in recent decades and the mussel should be protected as a threatened species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today. Its decline is the result of pollution and reduced flows in the Suwannee River Basin.

A listing as threatened means the Suwannee moccasinshell is considered likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

The listing becomes effective November 7, 2016, 30 days after the publication of this decision in the Federal Register.

The Suwannee moccasinshell is a freshwater mussel only found in the Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia. The primary reason for the species’ decline is the degradation of its habitat and poor water quality due to pollution and reduced flows. Its riverine habitats are vulnerable to degradation from numerous sources including runoff from agricultural operations, discharges or accidental releases from industrial and municipal wastewater facilities and mining operations, and groundwater extraction.

Louisiana Pinesnake Proposed to be Added as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act

October 5, 2016

A patterned black and gray snake blends in to the strewn, dark pine needles on the forest floor.
Louisiana pinesnake. Photo by Michael Sealy, USFWS.

The Louisiana pinesnake, a large, non-venomous snake now found only in isolated areas of Louisiana and Texas, is being proposed for listing as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

At the same time, the Service is seeking ideas and comments on activities that should be considered for inclusion in an upcoming list of activities that would be exempted from any impacts of this proposed action under the ESA’s Section 4d.  It’s an opportunity for the Service to hear from private landowners, timber companies, conservation groups and anyone interested in our work to protect the Louisiana pinesnake and to keep working lands working.

The decision to propose the listing is based on an analysis of the best available scientific and commercial data regarding the status of the snake and threats to its existence.  A threatened designation means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a big part of its range in the two states.

Service Finalizes Listing for Kentucky Arrow Darter

Lists Species as Threatened and Finalizes Critical Habitat

October 4, 2016

A small fish in an aquarium with colorful orange and blue body and fins.
Kentucky arrow darter. Credit: J. R. Shute, Conservation Fisheries, Inc.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized its listing determination today for the Kentucky arrow darter.

As a species that was determined likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future, the Service is listing this small, colorful fish as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and finalizing critical habitat. A special rule under Section 4(d) of the ESA will tailor exemptions for actions that have an overall benefit to the darter.

In making the decision to list the Kentucky arrow darter, the Service analyzed the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the species. To protect and restore the Kentucky arrow darter, the Service has been actively partnering with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, other federal agencies, and non-profit organizations to implement conservation measures.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to List Miami Tiger Beetle as Endangered

Once Thought Extinct, It Clings to Survival

October 4, 2016

A small, iridescent insect with tiny hairs on it's legs and sides stands in sandy soil.
Miami Tiger Beetle. Photo by Jonathan Mays, FWC.

VERO BEACH, FL — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is listing the Miami tiger beetle as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), meaning the beetle is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range now or in the foreseeable future.

The listing of the Miami tiger beetle as endangered becomes effective on November 4, 2016, 30 days after its publication on October 5, 2016, in the Federal Register.

The Miami tiger beetle was considered extinct until 2007 when a small population was discovered near Zoo Miami. Now the distinctive beetle with a shiny dark green dorsal surface is only known to survive in two separate, very small populations in Miami’s disappearing pine rocklands---one in the Richmond Pine Rocklands and another discovered in 2015 about three miles from there and separated by urban development. These rare pine rocklands are home to six plant and animal species already protected under the ESA.

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Last updated: October 12, 2016