Region 5 – Brief Article

Tom Chapman

Bog Turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii) The Service’s New Jersey Field Office participated in a series of meetings with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the Township of Hardyston in Sussex County regarding a proposed expansion of the township’s sewer service area. The expansion area originally included several known bog turtle populations, which could be adversely affected via secondary and indirect impacts. As a result of the discussions, Hardyston Township agreed to minimize the expansion area, avoiding all but two known bog turtle locations. Hardyston Township agreed to provide a written letter to the two landowners involved, alerting them to Service concerns regarding any planned development activities on their property. The New Jersey Field Office also agreed to provide additional assistance, including guidance on developing a Habitat Conservation Plan if needed.

Landowners who propose to develop the last of three golf course/residential communities that had been planned within the Township met with the Service and NJDEP to identify project designs that would have adversely affected bog turtles. The project proponents noted that they were interested in protecting the bog turtle population and agreed to redesign the project to avoid adverse effects. The New Jersey Field Office will continue to coordinate with the NJDEP and the project proponents to ensure the long-term survival and viability of the Hardyston bog turtle population.

Blackside Dace (Phoxinus cumberlandensis) Biologists recently found the blackside dace in Cox Creek, a small tributary of the North Fork Powell River in Lee County, Virginia. The report is the first record of this threatened fish outside of the upper Cumberland River system. Cox Creek is located just across the divide between the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers systems, and the species may have entered Cox Creek through stream “pirating;” the stream once may have flowed into the Cumberland but some geologic event of the past rerouted the stream to the other side of the divide. This would not be the first example of fauna moving into a new drainage as a result of stream pirating.

Mr. Chris Skelton, an aquatic zoologist with the Georgia Natural Heritage Program and an expert on the genus Phoxinus, notified us that he had identified some 1995 collections from Cox Creek and had found P. cumberlandensis. He also had collected from the stream himself recently and found the species present. Dr. Dave Etnier at University of Tennessee said he had seen the specimens from Cox Creek and felt that Chris Skelton’s identification as P. cumberlandensis was a good one. As Dr. Etnier pointed out, these fish could turn out to be an undescribed species closely related to P. cumberlandensis, but for now we have to call them P. cumberlandensis. Northeastern Bulrush (Scirpus ancistrochaetus) Last April, the Service’s Conte NWR added a 278-acre (112-hectare) site in Putney, Vermont, to protect a population of the endangered northeastern bulrush. The site supports the state’s second largest population of this wetland plant.

Reported by Tom Chapman of the Service’s Abingdon, Virginia, Field Office.

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