On December 28th, Friends of Blackwater and 66 signees submitted the following petition language to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, requesting an increase in protection for three WV freshwater mussel species:
“The long-solid and round hickory-nut mussels are on the brink of extinction, and have been forced out of most of their habitat due to human activities. The proposed actions by Fish and Wildlife are not enough. Their current occupied habitat doesn’t provide enough space for their populations to recover. Unoccupied habitat needs to be designated as critical habitat to be protected in anticipation of the species’ restoration. Not only are you required to ensure the protection of species listed under the ESA, but the recovery of species as well.
The once-common longsolid mussel has lost 63% of its populations, the round hickorynut has lost 78% of its populations, and the purple lilliput has lost 47% of its populations. We demand that you designate critical habitat for the purple Lilliput as well.
Twenty-three mussel species have already been lost to extinction. These incredible invertebrates are vital to our ecosystems, as they stabilize stream banks, create habitat, are food sources, and filter water where they reside. These mussels create clean water, and clean water is indispensable for all life.”
We also assisted with and signed onto the Center for Biological Diversity’s comments, which you can read here, or linked below. These comments cited recent research, making a case for the purple lilliput’s listing and the need for an increase in protection of not just occupied habitat, but unoccupied habitat to aid in the species’ recoveries.