The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service will be providing some extra protection for a species of small fish found in Iowa rivers, in spite of its original decision not to. The Topeka Shiner is a small, silver minnow on the endangered species list. Fish and Wildlife Spokeswoman Georgia Parham says portions of the Raccoon, Boone, and Rock Rivers have been designated a critical habitat for the Topeka Shiner.She says that designation protect’s the fish’s habitat, mostly by guaranteeing that any federal activities are done in a way that won’t jeopardize the fish’s existence. Parham says the designation should have little impact on property owners in the critical habitat area.Parham says the fish has been listed since 1998, so many protections have been in place since then. Parham says the Fish and Wildlife Service had not originally sought the designation for the Topeka Shiner.When a species is “listed,” the Fish and Wildlife Service decides whether to apply that critical habitat protection, and they didn’t do that with the Topeka Shiner, at least not until the service lost a court challenge. The lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service was filed by the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity. Parham says the agency believes critical habitat actually provides little extra protection and diverts funds from other conservation activities.Parham says prioritizing the options they might take to “recover’ a species often turns up methods that would be more cost-effective than the habitat protection rule, and give conservationists more “bang for your buck.” The designation will affect 836 miles of stream in Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska.
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