Fish habitat in 4 Arkansas counties
HEBER SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing that 224 river miles, including 98 in Arkansas, be protected as a critical habitat for five endangered species of fish.
But only one of those species dwells in Arkansas: The “yellowcheek darter,” a bottom-dwelling fish found in the Little Red River and several of its tributaries.
Construction of a dam on the Little Red River destroyed its original habitat to create Greers Ferry Reservoir.
The Center for Biological Diversity first sought Endangered Species Act protection for the yellowcheek darter back in 2004.
Steve “Wildman” Wilson is the Public Affairs Coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
He said it all boils down to one thing: habitat.
“It’s food, water, shelter, space, air — and not only quantity of it, but you have to have quality of it as well,” Wilson said.
The yellowcheek darter is also threatened by natural gas development, animal feedlot pollution, cattle grazing, clear-cut logging and gravel mining.
“If you look at everything on the endangered species list, it’s there because of habitat destruction or loss of habitat — it has the worst effect on wildlife populations than anything else,” Wilson added.
But with this proposal for critical habitat protection, it will ensure that the species will stick around.Matt Buhrman
No word yet on when or if this proposal will be approved.