Feds Propose Protection for Six Texas Aquatic Invertebrates
Spring Habitats Threatened by Groundwater Pumping, Reduced Water Quality
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service)
will propose to list six west Texas aquatic invertebrates as
"endangered" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and propose
critical habitat designations for all six species. The six species are the
Phantom Cave snail (Pyrgulopsis texana),
Phantom springsnail (Tryonia cheatumi),
diminutive amphipod (Gammarus
hyalleloides), Diamond Y Spring snail (Pseudotryonia
adamantina), Gonzales springsnail (Tryonia
circumstriata), and Pecos amphipod (Gammarus
“The thirst for water in the American
West has taken a heavy toll on freshwater springs, which are critical habitat
for fish, wildlife, and plants,” said Mark Salvo, Wildlife Program Director for
WildEarth Guardians. “Protecting these animals will help conserve spring systems
in west Texas for dependent species and human communities.”
The current range for the Phantom Cave
snail, Phantom springsnail and diminutive amphipod is limited to spring
outflows in the San Solomon Springs system near Balmorhea in Reeves and Jeff
Davis counties. The Diamond Y Spring snail, Gonzales springsnail, and Pecos
amphipod are restricted to spring outflow areas within the Diamond Y Spring
system north of Fort Stockton in Pecos County.
species are threatened by reduced spring flow, modification of spring channels,
and water quality changes and contamination at the two spring complexes where
they occur. In fact, spring flow at the San Solomon Spring has been maintained
by a pump system since 2000 to support species conservation. The Service has is
concerned that the risk of extirpation of the three invertebrates at that
spring continues to be extremely high from the potential for a pump failure (as
has occurred in the past).
Five of these species (Phantom Cave
snail, Phantom springsnail, diminutive amphipod, Diamond Y Spring snail,
Gonzales springsnail) were candidates for listing under the ESA and among more
than 800 species covered in WildEarth Guardians’ species settlement agreement
with the Fish and Wildlife Service, announced on May 10, 2011, and approved by
a federal court on September 9, 2011. The agreement obligates the agency to
make final listing determinations for 252 candidate species by September 2016.
All five candidates have waited more than 20 years for proposed listing.
WildEarth Guadians petitioned to list
the sixth species (Pecos amphipod) under the ESA in 2007. The Fish and Wildlife
Service announced it would not list the species under the act in 2009, but has
now determined, upon further review, that the species does warrant federal
“We knew the Pecos amphipod was
imperiled; we’re glad the Service has finally come around to agree,” said Salvo.
The pre-publication notice of the
proposed rule is available at http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2012-19829_PI.pdf.