USFWS Critical Habitat Designation for Two WV Mussels Ignores Restoration Obligation
US Fish and Wildlife Service
In response to a petition and lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
In this listing, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has abandoned any currently unoccupied but suitable habitat by these species, when it comes to designating critical habitat for the species. The agency only wants to designate critical habitat for these two species if the habitat is currently occupied. This creates obstacles to recovery- these species are on the brink of extinction and have been eradicated from most of their range. The USFWS should protect occupied as well as unoccupied habitat by designating it as critical habitat so that unoccupied habitat may be protected in anticipation of the species' restoration.
Join us in pushing back against this paltry and half-hearted approach to designating critical habitat for the 2 proposed species. The agency is required to ensure the protection and recovery of each species listed under the ESA. This requires restoring the species to previously occupied habitat, which requires protecting that habitat.
The once-common longsolid mussel, found in the southern part of the Mon National Forest, has lost 63% of its populations, and only three out of 60 surviving populations are considered to have a high chance of survival. The round hickorynut has now lost 78% of its populations, and only four of 65 are ranked as having high resiliency. Both mussels live in West Virginia river basins.
The Service denied listing for a third petitioned mussel, the purple lilliput, another West Virginia mussel, even though 47% of its populations have already been wiped out and 20% of its remaining populations aren’t expected to survive the next few decades. We will also be contesting their decision not to list & designate critical habitat for the purple lilliput.
US Fish and Wildlife Service
From: [Your Name]
The long-solid and round hickory-nut mussels are on the brink of extinction, and have been forced out of most of their habitat due to human activities. The proposed actions by Fish and Wildlife are not enough. Their current occupied habitat doesn't provide enough space for their populations to recover. Unoccupied habitat needs to be designated as critical habitat to be protected in anticipation of the species' restoration. Not only are you required to ensure the protection of species listed under the ESA, but the recovery of species as well.
The once-common longsolid mussel has lost 63% of its populations, the round hickorynut has lost 78% of its populations, and the purple lilliput has lost 47% of its populations. We demand that you designate critical habitat for the purple Lilliput as well.
Twenty-three mussel species have already been lost to extinction. These incredible invertebrates are vital to our ecosystems, as they stabilize stream banks, create habitat, are food sources, and filter water where they reside. These mussels create clean water, and clean water is indispensable for all life.