U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Southeast Region News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        Vicki M. Boatwright or

July 2, 1996                                      Diana M. Hawkins



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public input on a revised draft plan to aid in recovering populations of an endangered freshwater mussel that was listed June 30, 1993, under the Endangered Species Act, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southeast Regional Director, Noreen K. Clough.

The Carolina heelsplitter, also known as Lasmigona decorata, inhabits cool, slow-moving, small- to medium-sized streams and rivers. The species was once commonly found in several locations within the Catawba and Pee Dee River systems in North Carolina and the Pee Dee, Savannah, and possibly the Saluda River systems in South Carolina. There are, however, only four known remaining populations of this species. Two of these are located in North Carolina in Goose Creek, in the Pee Dee River system and in Waxhaw Creek in the Catawba River system in Union County.

In South Carolina there is one population in the Lynches River, which runs through Lancaster, Chesterfield, and Kershaw counties. Other South Carolina populations survive in Turkey Creek in the Savannah River system and in two of its tributaries, Mountain and Beaverdam creeks, in Edgefield County. The species' present habitat has been reduced to just a few short reaches in each of these streams because of the deterioration in the water quality caused by the construction of impoundments and poor land-use practices that have caused siltation and the infusion of other pollutants.

The original draft recovery plan for the Carolina heelsplitter was circulated for public review and comment in the summer of 1994. The discovery in 1995 of a previously unknown population of the species in the Savannah River system, however, has necessitated a revision of the draft plan.

The revised draft recovery plan describes actions considered necessary for the conservation of the species, establishes criteria for recognizing the recovery levels for downlisting or delisting the species, and estimates the time and cost for implementing the recovery measures needed. The plan's major objectives, Clough said, are to protect currently occupied habitat, restore historical habitat for reintroduction of the species, conduct applied research, and increase public awareness of the species' value to the ecosystem.

The Service will collect written comments on the revised draft recovery plan over the next 60 days. Copies of the plan may be obtained from the Service by writing to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 160 Zillicoa Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28801, or by calling 704/258-3939.

X X X Release #96-46

1996 News Releases

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