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Center for Biological Diversity:
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The Gadsden Times, October 12, 2011

Portion of Cove Creek could be critical habitat for endangered fish

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday proposed to protect 224 river miles as critical habitat for five endangered fish species, including a portion of Cove Creek in western Etowah County.

The fish in August were protected under the Endangered Species Act as the result of a landmark legal settlement reached this year between the Center for Biological Diversity and the Fish and Wildlife Service to expedite protection decisions for 757 imperiled species across the country. The center first petitioned for protection for four of the five fish species in 2004.

“Saving endangered species from extinction means protecting the places they live. Today’s habitat proposal gives these highly endangered fish the fighting chance they need to survive and recover,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist with the center, which is working to protect freshwater species across the Southeast.

The five fish species — Cumberland darter, chucky madtom, laurel dace, rush darter and yellowcheek darter — are endangered by habitat loss and pollution. The designation of critical habitat will require federal agencies to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that any federally funded or permitted actions will not damage or destroy the fishes’ critical habitat.

The rush darter is found in Etowah, Jefferson and Winston counties in Alabama. It is threatened by pollution from urbanization and logging. The center filed a petition in 2004 seeking federal protection for the rush darter.

Other protected habitats were in Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Copyright © 2011 GadsdenTimes.com

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton