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Lawsuit to expedite endangered species decisions includes 5 species found in WV

By RICK STEELHAMMER

Charleston Gazette-Mail

The Elk River crayfish
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Five West Virginia animal and insect species, including a crayfish known to exist only in the Left Fork of Holly River, are cited in a lawsuit filed against the Trump administration and new U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt for failing to make protection decisions for 24 imperiled plants and animals.

The suit, filed earlier this month by the Center for Biological Diversity, seeks to implement a 2016 work plan developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make timely decisions on whether to grant Endangered Species Act protection for the 24 species. The 2016 work plan called for those decisions to have been made by the end of the 2018 fiscal year.

The process for listing candidate species for Endangered Species Act protection and developing critical habitat prescriptions needed to restore them is supposed to take two to three years, according to the CBD. Instead, it takes 12 years, on average, for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make such designations.

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