Tulotoma snail on the road to recovery
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed reclassifying the tulotoma snail from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act, declaring the snail is making major strides on the road to recovery. The rule was published in today’s Federal Register and the public is invited to comment on the proposal by August 23, 2010.
“The improved status of the tulotoma snail is a direct result of coordinated efforts by the Service and its partners, including state and federal agencies, the Alabama Power Company, and the Alabama Clean Water Partnership,” said Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “Our accomplishments show that the Endangered Species Act works.”
The status of the tulotoma snail has improved to such a degree it is no longer in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future. As a threatened species, the tulotoma snail will continue to be protected from take, including killing, harming, harassing, possessing, or removing the species from the wild. Federal agencies also will continue to be required to protect the species and its habitat. Its range remains highly fragmented and the populations are vulnerable to nonpoint source pollution, droughts, or other catastrophic events within their respective watersheds.
Copies of the proposed rule are available on the Internet at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: regulations.gov, or by writing to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6578 Dogwood View Parkway, Suite A, Jackson, MS 39213; or by calling 601-321 1121.
The Service is seeking comments, suggestions and any additional information on the proposed rule. Comments from the public should be submitted by August 23, 2010. The Endangered Species Act provides for a public hearing on this proposal, if requested. Requests for a public hearing should be submitted by August 6, 2010. Comments or requests for a public hearing must be received by using one of the following methods: 1). Go to Federal eRulemaking Portal:regulations.gov and follow the instructions for submitting comments; or 2). Use U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-AW08; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
Neither e-mails nor faxes will be accepted. All comments will be posted on regulations.gov. This generally means that any personal information provided will also be posted. A final decision on whether or not to reclassify the species will consider all comments and information received.
The tulotoma is an ornamented, aquatic snail found in Alabama. It was listed as endangered in 1991. At that time, the tulotoma snail had disappeared from 98 percent of its historical range and was only known to occur in five localized areas in the lower Coosa River drainage in Alabama. These included one small reach in the main channel of the Coosa River below Jordan Dam, and the lower reaches of four Coosa River tributaries: Ohatchee, Kelly, Hatchet, and Weogufka creeks.
The primary threat to the species’ survival was an extreme reduction in range. Species’ populations became isolated and highly vulnerable to pollution and random catastrophic events such as droughts and contaminant spills. The tulotoma snail disappeared from the Ohatchee Creek, the smallest of the four tributaries, because of nonpoint source pollution.
The Mobile River Basin Aquatic Ecosystem Recovery Plan published in 2000, outlined recovery tasks and criteria to reclassify the tulotoma snail to threatened status. Recovery actions that have benefited the species include the location of additional populations, population monitoring, population and habitat census, the establishment of minimum flows below Jordan Dam to improve habitat conditions, the implementation of pulsing flows below Logan Martin Dam to improve dissolved oxygen in that reach, and the development of watershed management plans to address nonpoint source pollution in the lower Coosa and the Alabama River basins.
These actions have improved the species’ status so that it is no longer in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future. The known range of the tulotoma snail has increased from less than two percent to 10 percent of the species’ historical range since its listing in 1991. There has been an increase in the extent and size of the tulotoma snail population in the Coosa River below Jordan Dam, due to the minimum flows released from the Jordan Dam by Alabama Power Company. Studies have also documented an increase in range of the Kelly, Hatchet, and Weogufka creek populations, and expansion of the Kelly Creek population into the Coosa River below Logan Martin Dam. Monitoring of the Yellowleaf, Choccolocco, and Weoka creek populations indicates they have remained stable since their discovery. Tulotoma colonies have also been discovered at three locations in the Alabama River.
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