Fish and Wildlife finalizes mussel habitat designations

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week is publishing the final rule for critical habitat designations for two freshwater mussels in Kentucky, Tennessee and 10 other states.

The final version reduces designations from those proposed nearly three years ago. The agency says it includes a significant change to the proposal in Arkansas for the rabbitsfoot mussel, with the designation there reduced by 27 percent.

Fish and Wildlife Southeast Regional Director Cindy Dohner says Neosho mucket and rabbitsfoot mussel populations are declining due to lost or degraded river habitats.

The service is designating critical habitat in seven areas for the Neosho mucket, covering about 483 river miles in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. For the rabbitsfoot, the service is designating critical habitat in 31 areas covering about 1,437 miles in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.