7 Texas mussels get ESA help as feds reward local efforts

By Michael Doyle | 06/03/2024 01:17 PM EDT

The Fish and Wildlife Service listed the mussels as threatened or endangered while designating a smaller critical habitat than originally proposed.

 A collection of Texas fatmucket mussels on sand.

Texas fatmucket mussels are shown. Fish and Wildlife Service/Center for Biological Diversity

The Fish and Wildlife Service showed Monday how voluntary conservation initiatives can keep some regulations at bay, as the agency announced federal protections for seven species of freshwater mussels from central Texas.

While adding the Texas fatmucket, Guadalupe orb and five other distinctively named mussels to the list of threatened and endangered species, the agency dialed down the total designated critical habitat to 1,578 river miles. Three years ago, the FWS proposed designating a total of 1,944 river miles.

The 18 percent shrinkage in the total critical habitat was the Fish and Wildlife Service’s tip of the hat to local conservation efforts.


“We are committed to working with local communities to ensure they have the tools they need to protect and recover these imperiled species,” Amy Lueders, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region director, said in a statement, adding that “creative collaboration with Central Texas river authorities has led to some ground breaking conservation actions.”