Arkansas' congressional delegation opposes mussel plan

Posted: January 10, 2014 at 4:12 p.m.

Members of Arkansas' congressional delegation want federal wildlife officials to reduce the size of a "critical habitat" area for two types of rare mussels.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last Sept. 17 proposed the designation along 769 miles of streams, saying the mussels are indicators of water quality. Listing the Neosho mucket as endangered and the rabbitsfoot mussel as threatened makes it illegal to kill, harm, harvest or possess them.

The state's senators and four congressmen say 42 percent of Arkansas' surface area could be impacted by new regulations. On Friday, they said the "critical habitat" designation was flawed and asked that the size of the area be reduced.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says the mussels' habitat is being threatened by channelization, chemicals, mining and sedimentation.

Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more details.