Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Public infromation and Hearing on Texas Hornshell mussel in Back River, Eddy County NM

Today, it is the only native mussel remaining in New Mexico and is scarce in Texas, occupying only 15% of its historical U.S. range. Habitat fragmentation and loss as a result of impoundments and reduced water quality and quantity are negatively impacting the Texas hornshell and other freshwater mussels across the Southwest. After thoroughly reviewing the best available science, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to protect the mussel as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We are seeking comments from academia, the public, industry, local and federal agencies, states and other stakeholders. “The Texas hornshell and other mussels across the Southwest are struggling because the waterways they call home are being altered and impacted by declining water quality and quantity,” said Dr. Benjamin N. Tuggle, the Service’s Southwest Regional Director. “Declining freshwater mussel populations are signs of an unhealthy aquatic system, which has negative implications for the fish, wildlife and communities that depend upon those rivers and streams.” “By working closely with private landowners, states and federal agencies we will improve water quality and quantity to benefit both the species and communities that rely upon those flowing waters.” The Texas hornshell can grow to more than 41⁄2 inches long and live up to 20 years. Like other freshwater mussels, it uses fish to complete its life cycle. Fertilized hornshell eggs develop into larvae and are released from the adults into the water where they are consumed by fish. The larvae then form parasitic cysts in the host fish’s gills, face or fins where they transform into the juvenile form and are released. If they are released in a suitable area, they can attach to a substrate and complete their development, becoming reproductive adult mussels. In the Rio Grande, the Texas hornshell has been found downstream of Big Bend National Park and near Laredo in Webb County, Texas, in the Pecos River near Pandale, Texas, and the Devil’s River in Val Verde County, Texas. Historically, the Texas hornshell was widely distributed in Gulf Coast rivers in Mexico, however, its present status there is unclear.
From USFWS news release August 9, 2016 Contact(s): Chuck Ardizzone, 281-286-8282, chuck_ardizzone@fws.gov Lesli Gray, 972-439-4542, lesli_gray@fws.gov Jeff Humphrey, 602-242-0210, jeff_humphrey@fws.gov A public informational session from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., followed by a public hearing from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on June 15, 2017, Pecos River Village in Carlsbad, New Mexico

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