Surveying for Threatened & Endangered Crayfish of the Southern Coalfields

Surveying for Threatened & Endangered Crayfish of the Southern Coalfields

In 2016, two species of Appalachian crayfish, the Big Sandy Crayfish (Cambarus callainus) and the Guyandotte River Crayfish (C. veteranus) were awarded federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Due to their limited range and degrading habitat, the Big Sandy Crayfish was designated as a threatened species and the Guyandotte River Crayfish was designated as an endangered species. These designations provide each species protections through United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) management and oversight of activities which may alter species distribution and/or habitat.

The Big Sandy Crayfish (C. callainus) was first observed in 1937 and is only known from the Big Sandy River watershed in eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia, and southern West Virginia. More specifically, it is only found in McDowell and Mingo Counties within West Virginia. The Big Sandy Crayfish is currently considered threatened because of its potential to become endangered if populations continue to decline in number and habitats continue to become limited.

Cambarus callainus

The Guyandotte River Crayfish (C. veteranus) is currently only known to occur in two streams of its historic range in Wyoming County, West Virginia. The species has a well-known population in Pinnacle Creek and a recently found population in Clear Fork. The Guyandotte River Crayfish is considered to be endangered because known populations are small and are isolated from each other. This makes the species vulnerable to die-offs as result of single pollution events and lack of genetic diversity.

Cambarus veteranus

Both species are habitat specialists, meaning they have specific habitat requirements for the establishment and success of their populations. Large slab boulders within swift moving creeks and streams are the preferred refugia for both species. Unfortunately, these habitats can become increasingly scarce as a result of increased sediments to streams such as sand and silt. In addition, historic industrial activities and poor infrastructure in the region have also resulted in water quality issues throughout each species’ historic range.

With habitat availability declining, these two-protected species are forced to compete with common native crayfish species for resources and refugia. Interspecies competition can further inhibit the likelihood of their success.

Crayfish Presence/Absence Surveys

Over the past two years, AllStar Ecology has conducted numerous presence/absence surveys in McDowell, Logan, and Wyoming Counties, West Virginia for bridge enhancement projects and utility lines. Due to the instream work associated with these projects, the surveys were necessary to avoid potential disturbance to endangered crayfish and their habitats.

 

Freshwater Mussel Surveys & Conservation for Dam Removals

Freshwater Mussel Surveys & Conservation for Dam Removals

Pre Dam Removal Mussel Surveys

Three low-head dams (West Milford, Highland and Two Lick Dams) on the West Fork River in Harrison County, West Virginia, were planned for removal by the Clarksburg Water Board with assistance from the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). These dams were constructed in the early 1900’s for flood control and drinking water supply but no longer served their purpose and were a hazard to recreation along the river.

In September 2015, AllStar Ecology staff led efforts to relocate all live freshwater mussels from the work areas downstream of each dam. In West Virginia, all freshwater mussel species are now of conservation concern due to severe declines in their populations. In fact, freshwater mussels are the most imperiled species across the United States. With assistance from the USFWS and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR), a total of 116 freshwater mussels of eight species were collected and relocated outside of the dam work areas.


Dam Removal & Mussel Salvage

The demolition of the three dams occurred in the spring and summer of 2016. Each dam was demolished in increments so that water levels upstream receded gradually over time. This exposed 12.5 miles of river bank on the West Fork River home to freshwater mussels that were now stranded without water. AllStar Ecology, USFWS, WVDNR, and numerous other partners and volunteers used canoes with apple pickers and litter grabbers to collect stranded mussels. In total, 1,476 live freshwater mussels of eight species were relocated to newly exposed riffles within the West Fork River with help from 34 volunteers searching for a total of 646 hours.


Restoration & Future Goals

Removing the three dams opened a continuous 35 miles of river on the West Fork and returned 13.5 miles of lake type habitat to river type habitat. This will improve fish movement, sediment transport, and freshwater mussel populations and increase recreation opportunities. The project has also spurred the removal of tons of trash and litter from the areas and has lowered the cost of drinking water treatment for the City of Clarksburg.

The USFWS and its partners hope to continue river restoration on the West Fork River through additional dam removal and modifications. AllStar Ecology will continue to lead efforts to relocate freshwater mussels from work areas and along exposed banks.


The AllStar Difference

We develop mussel survey plans and conduct the necessary surveys to fulfill the needs of various industries, land managers and the scientific community. AllStar has performed hundreds of mussel surveys throughout West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania for industries including oil and gas, utilities, loading and dredging facilities, municipalities, non-profits, and government agencies, etc. to meet the needs of our clients. Learn more about our mussel services by clicking here or contact us for more information.

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Thanks for reading,
AllStar Ecology
info@allstarecology.com
304-816-3490

Oil & Gas Awards: Consultancy of the Year

Oil & Gas Awards: Consultancy of the Year

The Oil & Gas Awards announced this year’s annual Northeast Oil & Gas Awards recipients in recognition of those companies who excel in the key areas of Health & Safety, Operational Excellence, Innovation, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Stewardship.

The annual Northeast gala ceremony was held at The Westin Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA, where hundreds of oil and gas executives gathered together to celebrate Operational Excellence, Innovations in technology, CSR, Health & Safety and Environmental Stewardship.



About the Oil & Gas Awards
 

The Oil & Gas Awards recognize the outstanding achievements made within the upstream and midstream sectors of the North American oil and gas industry. The Awards are a platform for the industry to demonstrate and celebrate the advances made in the key areas of environment, efficiency, innovation, corporate social responsibility and health and safety. The Awards show the industry’s motivation to develop by recognizing and rewarding the efforts of corporations and individuals. For more information about the Oil & Gas Awards, all regional awards and award categories can be reviewed on their website at www.oilandgasawards.com



2017 Winners:

Engineering Company of the Year – Pickering Associates

Water Management Company of the Year – Eureka Resources

Award for Excellence in Health & Safety – Deep Well Services

Consultancy of the Year – AllStar Ecology

Award for Excellence in Environmental Stewardship – Comtech Industries

Manufacturer of the Year – Infinity Tool Manufacturing

Construction Company of the Year – Minnesota Limited

New Technology Development of the Year – Fortis Energy Services

The Oil & Gas Financial Journal Transaction of the Year – Rice Energy

Kerr Pumps & FlowValve Award for Excellence in Well Completion – U.S. Well Services

E&P Company of the Year – EQT Corporation

Future Industry Leader – Zhenhua Rui

Midstream Company of the Year – MarkWest Energy Partners, L.P.

Industry Supplier of the Year –Total Equipment Company

Law Firm of the Year – Blank Rome LLP

Award for Excellence in Drilling – Eclipse Resources

Oilfield Services Company of the Year – McCutcheon Enterprises

Award for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility – Junior Achievement

General Industry Service Award – Well Master Corp

Lifetime Achievement Award – Lou D’Amico


AllStar Ecology

AllStar Ecology, a local West Virginia consulting company, humbly received the honor of Consultancy of the Year. AllStar Ecology is a specialty consulting firm focused on guiding their clients through the changing regulatory climate in regards to the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.  They specialize in ecological and environment consulting and contracting, including surveying for federal and state protected species (bats, mussels, mammals, and plants),  completing and implementing conservation plans, as well as mitigation banking, restoration contracting, and wetland and stream permitting (404/401) including mitigation banking and restoration contracting.

Specific highlights for AllStar Ecology over the past year include manufacturing, installing, and monitoring over 300 artificial roosting structures to comply with the Endangered Species Act for endangered and threatened bat species in West Virginia.  These structures had a 42% occupancy rate and included eight (8) northern long-eared bat maternity colonies, a federally threatened species. This success demonstrates how meaningful conservation measures can provide companies with a known and USFWS preferred solution for tree clearing activities while limiting cost and off-site conservation measure requirements.

Moreover, in 2016, AllStar ecologists completed several freshwater mussel, and endangered plant species surveys required for oil and gas infrastructure development in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  Since its founding, AllStar Ecology has surveyed over 50,000 acres of land, and permitted over 1,200 infrastructure projects in the region.  They work directly with industry, as well as provide specialty as-needed support to engineering firms within the industry.

AllStar Ecology is proud to be locally owned and operated with a staff of 40 professionally trained environmental consultants, 60% of which are West Virginia University graduates.