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Protect the Unsung Heroes of Our Rivers

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

These mussels are like nature's "silent sentinels," indicating water quality and pollution levels. Take action for salamander mussels!


Sign this petition and add your voice to the call for the protection of the salamander mussel under the Endangered Species Act.

In the world of aquatic ecosystems, some species remain hidden gems, rarely noticed but profoundly important. One such species is the salamander mussel, a small freshwater bivalve that silently plays a vital role in the health of our rivers and streams. This unassuming mollusk is teetering on the edge of extinction, facing a perilous future across its vast 14-state habitat range, stretching from New York to southwest Arkansas1.

Despite its low profile, the salamander mussel is a guardian of our rivers and an indicator of water quality. When these silent sentinels thrive, they signal healthy ecosystems, and their decline is a troubling warning sign of potential troubles in our aquatic environments2.

A Species in Peril: Facing the Brink of Extinction

The United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has unveiled a proposal to add federal protections to the salamander mussel, recognizing its critical importance and the dire threats it faces3. The "species status assessment" paints a stark reality - over 80% of known populations of salamander mussels in the United States are at "high risk," and another 14% face moderate risks from a multitude of environmental threats4.

These dangers include water contamination, alterations in water flow, changes in landscapes, invasive species, and risks to the mussel's host species, the mudpuppy salamander5. The salamander mussel's existence is intricately tied to the health of its habitat, making its preservation a vital endeavor.

Silent Guardians of Our Waterways

Often overlooked, salamander mussels are affectionately known as "silent sentinels" of rivers and streams, monitoring water quality and river pollution2. They are more than mere indicators; these unassuming bivalves actively contribute to cleaner water by filtering food particles and removing sediment and pollutants6. Their role in maintaining the health of our aquatic ecosystems cannot be overstated.

The USFWS has identified approximately 2,012 miles of rivers and streams as "critical habitat" for the salamander mussel. If these waterways receive the critical habitat designation, habitat restoration projects, such as stream bank stabilization and culvert replacements, may face added regulatory complexities3.

Join Us in Protecting the Salamander Mussel

Now, the fate of the salamander mussel rests in our hands. We have a unique opportunity to influence this decision and take action to protect the salamander mussel and the ecosystems it calls home.

Join us in safeguarding this invaluable species and the resilience of our rivers and streams. Sign the petition and together, we can make a difference!

More on this issue:

  1. Danielle Kaeding, Wisconsin Public Radio (28 August 2023), "Federal wildlife regulators say the salamander mussel is at risk of extinction without protection."
  2. Farm and Dairy (15 September 2023), "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes listing salamander mussel as endangered."
  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Register (22 August 2023), "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species Status for Salamander Mussel and Designation of Critical Habitat."
  4. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Niagra Frontier Publications (21 August 2023), "US Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to list the salamander mussel as endangered."
  5. CBS News (21 August 2023), "Salamander mussel found in Pennsylvania facing extinction."
  6. University of Connecticut, Phys.org (15 March 2021), "How filter-feeding bivalves could be used to clean up microplastics."
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The Petition:

To the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,

I am writing to express my strong support for the proposed addition of the salamander mussel (Simpsonaias ambigua) to the Endangered Species list, along with the granting of federal protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The salamander mussel is a small freshwater bivalve species facing severe threats across its extensive habitat range, and it plays a vital role in maintaining the health of our nation's rivers and streams.

The "species status assessment" conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service paints a concerning picture. With over 80% of known populations of salamander mussels in the United States at "high risk" and an additional 14% facing moderate risks, it is evident that immediate action is needed to protect this imperiled species. These risks include water contamination, alterations in water flow, landscape changes, invasive species, and threats to the mussel's host species, the mudpuppy salamander.

Salamander mussels, often referred to as "silent sentinels" of our rivers and streams, provide critical indicators of water quality and river pollution. Their presence is a positive sign of healthy water ecosystems, while their decline signals potential issues in these environments. Beyond their role as indicators, these bivalves actively contribute to cleaner water by filtering food particles and removing sediment and pollutants from the water, benefitting river ecosystems.

While the proposed ESA designation for the mussel's habitat may introduce additional regulatory requirements, it is essential to prioritize these protections and collaborate with conservation organizations to ensure the survival of endangered species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's identification of approximately 2,012 miles of rivers and streams as "critical habitat" for the salamander mussel underscores the importance of these actions. Though habitat restoration projects may face added regulatory complexities, they are crucial for stream bank stabilization and culvert replacements, ultimately enhancing the movement of aquatic species like trout.

We urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to move forward with the proposed listing of the salamander mussel as an endangered species and to grant it the protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act. By doing so, we can ensure the preservation of this vital species and the health of our rivers and streams. These actions will not only protect the salamander mussel but also contribute to the resilience and health of our nation's ecosystems.

In conclusion, I believe that adding the salamander mussel to the Endangered Species list and providing it with the necessary protections under the ESA is a crucial step toward safeguarding our natural world. These actions will ensure that our ecosystems remain resilient and continue to thrive for generations to come. Thank you for your attention to this matter, and I trust that you will take swift and decisive action in support of the salamander mussel's conservation.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: