For Immediate Release, December 3, 2012
Contact: Ileene Anderson, (323) 490-0223 or firstname.lastname@example.org
California's Riverside Fairy Shrimp Given Fivefold Increase in Protected Habitat
LOS ANGELES— As a result of a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized 1,724 acres as protected critical habitat today for the Riverside fairy shrimp in Ventura, Orange and San Diego counties. This is more than a fivefold increase over the 306 acres designated by the Bush administration in 2005.
“This critical habitat designation gives the unique Riverside fairy shrimp a shot at survival,” said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center. “But the designation still doesn’t contain all the areas where the fairy shrimp is found — instead it’s the minimum this species needs to survive.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service excluded 1,259 acres of habitat that have already been identified as needing protection under existing, largely voluntary “habitat conservation plans” in Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties. It also exempted an additional 1,988 acres of habitat that occurs on Department of Defense and state park lands.
The Riverside fairy shrimp occurs in relatively deep, ephemeral wetlands, also known as vernal pools, which fill after winter and spring rains. Like other fairy shrimp, it can survive the drying of its habitat as “resting eggs” and can even survive in the digestive tracts of birds and other animals. The fairy shrimp, which feeds on algae, bacteria, protozoa, rotifers and bits of detritus, is a cornerstone in the food web for a wide array of aquatic and terrestrial species.
“Protection of vernal pools will not only benefit the Riverside fairy shrimp but a unique and important variety of wetland-dependent species in Southern California,” Anderson said.
Critical habitat is essential to identify and safeguard the habitat necessary to allow for recovery of the species. Species with designated critical habitat are more than twice as likely to be recovering as those without it.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.