2 stonefly species receive Endangered Species Act protection

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Left: meltwater lednian stonefly. Credit: Joe Giersch. Right: western glacier stonefly. Credit: USFWS.

DENVER,COLORADO (Dec. 1, 2019) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will protect the meltwater lednian stonefly and western glacier stonefly as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in a final listing decision announced Nov. 20.

 

These insects live in high-elevation cold-water streams on federal lands in and around Glacier National Park, Grand Teton National Park, with a population of the lednian stonefly also living on tribal lands in western Montana.

The flies begin their lives underwater as eggs, hatch into nymphs, and later become adults with wings, surviving briefly on land before reproducing and dying. They need clean, cold, running water to survive, which is primarily provided by melting glaciers and perennial snowfields.

However, melting glaciers, higher water temperatures, and changes in the volume of snowmelt and runoff are degrading the habitat these unique insects need to survive.

The Service worked closely with partners including the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to help determine the best available science regarding this decision.

Most remaining glaciers and snowfields in Glacier National Park, one of the primary locations where these species are found, are predicted to completely melt by 2030.

 

In addition, given recent revisions to critical habitat regulations, the Service finds that the threats to the species’ habitat stem solely from causes that cannot be addressed through management actions by other federal agencies under section 7(a)(2), the interagency cooperation portion of the Endangered Species Act. Therefore, designation of critical habitat for these species is not prudent.

To read the Service’s final rule visit regulations.gov and search for Docket number FWS–R6–ES–2016–0086. The listing will become final in 30 days.