Unique Alabama Salamander Now Federally Protected

 ========= Old Image Removed =========Array
(
    [_wp_attached_file] => Array
        (
            [0] => 2018/01/MarkBailey.jpg
        )

    [_wp_attachment_metadata] => Array
        (
            [0] => a:5:{s:5:"width";i:1600;s:6:"height";i:869;s:4:"file";s:22:"2018/01/MarkBailey.jpg";s:5:"sizes";a:13:{s:6:"medium";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:22:"MarkBailey-336x182.jpg";s:5:"width";i:336;s:6:"height";i:182;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:5:"large";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:22:"MarkBailey-771x419.jpg";s:5:"width";i:771;s:6:"height";i:419;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:9:"thumbnail";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:22:"MarkBailey-140x140.jpg";s:5:"width";i:140;s:6:"height";i:140;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:12:"medium_large";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:22:"MarkBailey-768x417.jpg";s:5:"width";i:768;s:6:"height";i:417;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:9:"1536x1536";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:23:"MarkBailey-1536x834.jpg";s:5:"width";i:1536;s:6:"height";i:834;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:9:"wbhm-icon";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:20:"MarkBailey-80x80.jpg";s:5:"width";i:80;s:6:"height";i:80;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:13:"wbhm-featured";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:22:"MarkBailey-600x338.jpg";s:5:"width";i:600;s:6:"height";i:338;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:20:"wbhm-featured-square";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:22:"MarkBailey-600x600.jpg";s:5:"width";i:600;s:6:"height";i:600;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:18:"wbhm-featured-home";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:22:"MarkBailey-573x311.jpg";s:5:"width";i:573;s:6:"height";i:311;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:22:"wbhm-featured-carousel";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:22:"MarkBailey-470x255.jpg";s:5:"width";i:470;s:6:"height";i:255;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:28:"ab-block-post-grid-landscape";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:22:"MarkBailey-600x400.jpg";s:5:"width";i:600;s:6:"height";i:400;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:25:"ab-block-post-grid-square";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:22:"MarkBailey-600x600.jpg";s:5:"width";i:600;s:6:"height";i:600;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:14:"post-thumbnail";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:22:"MarkBailey-125x125.jpg";s:5:"width";i:125;s:6:"height";i:125;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}}s:10:"image_meta";a:12:{s:8:"aperture";s:1:"0";s:6:"credit";s:0:"";s:6:"camera";s:0:"";s:7:"caption";s:0:"";s:17:"created_timestamp";s:1:"0";s:9:"copyright";s:0:"";s:12:"focal_length";s:1:"0";s:3:"iso";s:1:"0";s:13:"shutter_speed";s:1:"0";s:5:"title";s:0:"";s:11:"orientation";s:1:"0";s:8:"keywords";a:0:{}}}
        )

    [_media_credit] => Array
        (
            [0] => Mark Bailey
        )

    [_navis_media_credit_org] => Array
        (
            [0] =>  Courtesy of Black Warrior Riverkeeper
        )

    [_navis_media_can_distribute] => Array
        (
            [0] => 
        )

)
1566146166 
1514927146

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that it would protect a rare Alabama salamander under the Endangered Species Act. The Black Warrior waterdog, sometimes called the Alabama mudpuppy, is large, strange, and found only in the state.

Black Warrior waterdogs are nocturnal and can be almost a foot long. Their permeable skin and external gills make them sensitive to declines in water quality. That’s one reason the Fish and Wildlife Service listed them as endangered: their numbers have fallen because of habitat destruction and pollution in the Black Warrior River Basin from industrial plants, landfills, sewage treatment plants, construction, forestry, poultry farms, cattle feedlots, and mines. Dams disrupt the creatures’ lifecycle, too.

The Wildlife Service also designated 420 miles of the river and tributaries across 10 counties as critical habitat for the waterdog. Many of these places are already designated as critical for other endangered species, so regulators say little further action is needed.critical-habitat

A statement from the Fish and Wildlife Service says, “The habitat designation should have minimal or no impact on the forestry and coal mining community.”

But private landowners could face extra hurdles for projects that need federal funding or permits.

The Black Warrior waterdog was first put on the candidate list for federal protection in 1982. The Center for Biological Diversity, a national nonprofit conservation group based in Tucson, petitioned for the salamander’s protection in 2004 and again in 2010. Today’s decision is partly a result of CBD efforts.

“Aquatic salamanders like the Black Warrior waterdog are indicator species that reflect the health of the environment we all share,” says CBD senior scientist Tierra Curry. “Protecting this special amphibian and its habitat will help protect water quality for both waterdogs and people.”

In Birmingham, Black Warrior Riverkeeper staff attorney Eva Dillard says, “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made our New Year happy today.”

But the group didn’t get everything it had hoped for.

Dillard says the Wildlife Service had originally “proposed to designate 669 river miles within eleven tributaries of the Black Warrior River basin as critical habitat. Unfortunately, the Service’s announcement today cuts that proposed habitat by a third … While we are disappointed that the waterdog’s habitat was not fully protected as first proposed, we are pleased with the listing of the waterdog as endangered and the designation of critical habitat for this imperiled species.”

Nelson Brooke of Black Warrior Riverkeeper took part in the peer review process. The rule goes into effect in 30 days.

The Black Warrior waterdog spends almost all its life at the bottom of streams under submerged ledges, logs and rocks. It also retains juvenile features like feathery gills and a tail fin even after it matures.

 

Secretary of State investigating Bessemer for potential voter fraud

While rumors of election fraud or irregularities have lingered in the city for years, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill confirmed to WBHM his office is looking into allegations of voter fraud in Bessemer this election cycle.

Local health officials plan to increase monkeypox vaccinations

Health officials will soon begin offering intradermal vaccinations, reaching more people with less vaccine.

Combating gun violence remains a top focus of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As violent crime in Birmingham and the surrounding area continues to increase, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Prim Escalona, uses a variety of tools and strategies to get firearms and bad guys off the street.

Some 3rd graders in local schools could be held back under new law 

This is the first school year that third graders who do not read at grade level by the end of the school year must be held back in that grade, rather than passed on to fourth grade. The Alabama Literacy Act was passed several years ago, but its implementation was delayed because of the pandemic.

How one Birmingham custodian preps for the first day of school

When the kids are away, the custodial and maintenance staff in schools work all summer long. One custodian told WBHM about what it takes to keep the kids happy and healthy as they trade sunshine for fluorescent lights.

Dollar store workers are organizing for a better workplace. Just don’t call it a union.

Fired up by a labor movement that’s seen big union victories recently, dollar store workers are organizing in their own way to improve work conditions.

More Environment Coverage