Quantcast

Eight Mussel Species Need Protection

The Center for Biological Diversity

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect eight species of freshwater mussels in Alabama and Florida Oct. 3 under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). At the same time it proposed to designate nearly 1,500 miles of streams and rivers as critical habitat for the species. The eight proposed mussels have been waiting in line for federal protection since 2004 and are being proposed for protection as part of a landmark legal settlement reached earlier this year between the Center for Biological Diversity and the Fish and Wildlife Service, which will expedite protection decisions for 757 imperiled species across the country.

“Freshwater mussels are an integral part of the natural and cultural heritage of the Southeast, so it’s very exciting that these eight Alabama and Florida species have been proposed for protection,” said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Endangered Species Act protection, along with critical habitat, is the best tool we have for saving species from extinction.”

Proposed for protection are the poetically named Alabama pearlshell, Choctaw bean, fuzzy pigtoe, narrow pigtoe, round ebonyshell, southern kidneyshell, southern sandshell and tapered pigtoe. They're found in the Escambia, Yellow, Choctawhatchee and Mobile River watersheds, where they are threatened by pollution and habitat degradation. Freshwater mussels filter water constantly, removing algae, bacteria and decaying matter and thereby making the water safer for humans. On the downside, they're particularly sensitive to pollution.

“Protecting these species will also protect streams that give drinking water and recreation to Southeast communities,” said Curry. “Living streams and rivers are deeply linked to the South’s rich culture and history. Helping rivers helps protect that culture.”

Freshwater mussels are the most imperiled group of organisms in the U.S. More species of freshwater mussels are found in the American Southeast than anywhere else in the world, but 75 percent of the region’s freshwater mussels are now imperiled. Last week the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced it would conduct a review of 374 other southeastern freshwater species to determine if they warrant federal protection as the result of a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity in 2010.

The habitat that's being proposed to protect the eight mussels is in Bay, Escambia, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton and Washington counties, Fla.; and Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Monroe and Pike counties, Ala.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A glacier is seen in the Kenai Mountains on Sept. 6, near Primrose, Alaska. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have been studying the glaciers in the area since 1966 and their studies show that the warming climate has resulted in sustained glacial mass loss as melting outpaced the accumulation of new snow and ice. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Mark Mancini

On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.

Read More Show Less
Members of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America table at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18. Alex Schwartz

By Alex Schwartz

Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
StephanieFrey / iStock / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Muffins are a popular, sweet treat.

Read More Show Less
Hackney primary school students went to the Town Hall on May 24 in London after school to protest about the climate emergency. Jenny Matthews / In Pictures / Getty Images

By Caroline Hickman

Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?

Read More Show Less
Myrtle warbler. Gillfoto / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bird watching in the U.S. may be a lot harder than it once was, since bird populations are dropping off in droves, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the co-founding of The Climate Pledge at the National Press Club on Sept. 19 in Washington, DC. Paul Morigi / Getty Images for Amazon

The day before over 1,500 Amazon.com employees planned a walkout to participate in today's global climate strike, CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a sweeping plan for the retail and media giant to be carbon neutral by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris agreement schedule.

Read More Show Less

By Winona LaDuke

For the past seven years, the Anishinaabe people have been facing the largest tar sands pipeline project in North America. We still are. In these dying moments of the fossil fuel industry, Water Protectors stand, prepared for yet another battle for the water, wild rice and future of all. We face Enbridge, the largest pipeline company in North America, and the third largest corporation in Canada. We face it unafraid and eyes wide open, for indeed we see the future.

Read More Show Less
The climate crisis often intensifies systems of oppression. Rieko Honma / Stone / Getty Images Plus

By Mara Dolan

We see the effects of the climate crisis all around us in hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and rising sea levels, but our proximity to these things, and how deeply our lives are changed by them, are not the same for everyone. Frontline groups have been leading the fight for environmental and climate justice for centuries and understand the critical connections between the climate crisis and racial justice, economic justice, migrant justice, and gender justice. Our personal experiences with climate change are shaped by our experiences with race, gender, and class, as the climate crisis often intensifies these systems of oppression.

Read More Show Less