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Agency Plans to Protect|Eleven Southern Mussels

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to list eight Southern species of mussel as endangered, and three as threatened, under the Endangered Species Act. The Alabama pearlshell, round ebonyshell, southern sandshell, southern kidneyshell, and Choctaw bean, would be listed as endangered, and the tapered pigtoe, narrow pigtoe, and fuzzy pigtoe, would be listed as threatened.

These eight species are endemic to parts of the Escambia River, Yellow River, and Choctawhatchee River basins of Alabama and Florida, and to certain parts of the Mobile River Basin in Alabama. These mussel species have disappeared from other parts of their natural ranges primarily due to habitat deterioration and poor water quality, as a result of excessive sedimentation and environmental contaminants.

The agency also proposes to designate critical habitat for the eight species it plans to list as endangered. In total, approximately 1,495 miles of stream and river channels fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat designation. The proposed critical habitat is in Bay, Escambia, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington Counties, Florida; and Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Monroe, and Pike Counties, Alabama.

These proposals, if made final, would implement federal protection provided by the act.

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