The Appalachian Wildlife Foundation helps landowners and businesses understand and address circumstances where the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and species listed under ESA may affect their properties or operations. We begin by helping them understand the extent and scale of the challenges they might be facing. We coordinate actions and communications with state and federal agencies, and then assist in developing solutions.
Recently, AWF lead a collaborative effort to develop a Candidate Conservation Agreement for the Kentucky Arrow Darter (KAD), a fish species that is a candidate for listing under the ESA in 2016. The KAD only exists in a few counties in the upper Kentucky River watershed in southeastern Kentucky. Historic records indicated that this fish might exist in areas that had significant overlap with coal mining operations.
AWF worked with the Kentucky Coal Association, individual coal companies, land companies and state and federal agencies to determine if a long-term conservation strategy could be developed for the KAD that allowed the coal industry to continue to operate, and addressed the concerns regarding the fish.
Our work included analyzing historical data on KAD locations and then determining if the fish was still present. Stream surveys were conducted to determine if KADs were present, and water quality data collected. AWF compiled baseline studies of watersheds where the KAD was found and where the landowner wanted to conserve the fish. All of this was done in coordination with landowners, the Kentucky state fish and wildlife agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Through this effort, AWF demonstrated that the KAD is not as widespread as many believed, and that most of the historic and remaining populations were actually outside of the geographic region that has been, and might be mined for coal.
Another example of our work on ESA issues can be found in our efforts to address the impending listing of the Northern Long-eared Bat under the ESA. This bat species was once very common, but its populations have been devastated by white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that is 100% fatal. The listing of this species under the ESA might have significant consequences on the coal, oil, natural gas, and timber industries in Kentucky and throughout 37 other states.
AWF is helping businesses and landowners determine the impact of this listing on them and their operations. We are facilitating communications with federal and state agencies regarding bat conservation, and the management practices that landowners must implement.
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