Aquatic species, like freshwater mussels, are particularly useful as indicators of water quality. They have limited range and rely heavily on the surrounding aquatic community to reproduce. Since they’re largely immobile, water quality and habitat degradation pose significant risks. Loading of creeks and rivers with fine sediments, low-flow and drought, and water quality changes negatively impact mussels.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service have proposed five mussel species for endangered species status and one for threatened species status, because they have small populations, limited ranges, and significant habitat risks. These proposed listings also create an associated critical habitat designation. These listings would help protect these mussels and their habitat. Given population increases, climate change, and development, these protections would also protect water quality in many of the sensitive Hill Country creeks and rivers–definitely a good thing.
Tune in to the Public Meetings on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 and Thursday, September 16, 2021 at 5 pm to learn more. Consider making a comment to support the listing. These species are indicator of a larger issue and protecting them will help protect Texas waters.
Based on recently completed Species Status Assessments (SSAs), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to protect six central Texas mussels under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and designate critical habitat for each. The Service is proposing to list as endangered the Texas pimpleback, Guadalupe orb, Texas fatmucket, Guadalupe fatmucket and false spike, with simultaneous proposals for critical habitat. We are proposing to list the Texas fawnsfoot as threatened under the ESA, with a proposed 4(d) rule and critical habitat. As part of the proposal, the Service is also opening a 60-day public comment period and will host virtual informational meetings followed by public hearings on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 and Thursday, September 16, 2021. For the September 14 informational meeting/public hearing, please register at https://bit.ly/3sjfhPo. For the September 16 informational meeting/public hearing please register at https://bit.ly/3g1grdj.
Additional information on the proposal is available below.
News Release (161 KB, PDF)
FAQs (392 KB, PDF)
Proposed Rule (10.3 MB, PDF)