Friday, August 12, 2005

ENV: Texas endangered snail

This has been coming for some time. I visited the sites of two of these snails a few years back with Kelly Bryan -- all i can tell you is the water that was there might fill a swimming pool. . . thansk to Mike Quinn for the heads up . . .

Four Invertebrates Receive Endangered Species Status

Roswell springsnail, Koster’s tryonia, Pecos assiminea and Noel’s amphipod Questions and Answers - PDF (70 KB)

Three snails and one shrimp in New Mexico and Texas have been designated endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Roswell springsnail, Koster's springsnail, Pecos assiminea, all aquatic snails, and the Noel's amphipod, a freshwater shrimp, soon will be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

These invertebrates are found exclusively in the springs, seeps and sinkholes of the Pecos River basin in New Mexico and Texas. These animals depend on the health, quality, and quantity of ground water in their environment. They are threatened by the introduction of non-native species, surface and groundwater contamination, oil and gas extraction activities within the watershed, local and regional groundwater depletion, severe drought and habitat loss.

"While these species may look like tiny aliens, they are native to this ecosystem. They are good indicators of the quality of our ground water," said Dr. Joy Nicholopoulos, Assistant Regional Director of the Service's Southwest Region. "We need to protect these animals, as they are part of our unique cultural and natural heritage found nowhere else in the world."

The listing rule also designates critical habitat for the Pecos assiminea on approximately 397 acres managed by The Nature Conservancy at their East Sandia Spring and Diamond Y Spring complexes in Texas. Habitat in New Mexico is already protected as the invertebrates occur on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Under the ESA, critical habitat refers to specific geographic areas that contain features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and may require special management considerations. A designation does not 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.

When specifying an area as critical habitat, the ESA requires the Service to consider economic and other relevant impacts of the designation. If the benefits of excluding an area outweigh the benefits of including it, the Secretary of the Department of Interior may exclude an area from critical habitat, unless this would result in the extinction of a threatened or endangered species.

In 30 years of implementing the ESA, the Service has found that designation of critical habitat provides little additional protection for most listed species, while preventing the agency from using scarce conservation resources for activities with greater conservation benefits.

In almost all cases, recovery of listed species will come through voluntary cooperative partnerships, not regulatory measures such as critical habitat. Habitat is also protected through cooperative measures under the ESA, including Habitat Conservation Plans, Safe Harbor Agreements, Candidate Conservation Agreements and State programs. In addition, voluntary partnership programs such as the Service's Private Stewardship Grants and the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program also restore habitat. Habitat for listed species is provided on many of the Service's National Wildlife Refuges and State wildlife management areas.

A copy of the rule is available by calling (505) 761-4706 or mailing Field Supervisor, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2105 Osuna NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87113.

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