By Rick Steelhammer, Charleston Gazette-Mail
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated 446 miles of streams in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia as critical habitat for the endangered Guyandotte River crayfish and the threatened Big Sandy crayfish as part of a recovery plan for the two crustacean species.
The critical habitat designation, announced earlier this week, requires the sponsors of any project funded or regulated by a federal agency to consult with Fish and Wildlife before moving forward, to ensure that crayfish habitat is not harmed.
The Guyandotte River crayfish, listed as endangered in 2016, has lost more than 90% of its former range in recent decades, with surviving populations now found in only three Wyoming County streams.
The range of the Big Sandy crayfish, listed as threatened six years ago, has dropped 60%. It is now found only in the upper reaches of the Big Sandy watershed in Southern West Virginia, Southwestern Virginia and Eastern Kentucky…