Proposed critical habitats for five endangered fish species span 15 counties and miles of rivers and acres in the southeastern U.S., including Stone and Van Buren counties in Arkansas and Campbell and Scott counties in Tennessee.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is proposing that approximately 224 miles of river and 22 acres of critical habitat be designated for the Chucky Madtom, Cumberland darter, Laurel Dace, Rush darter, and Yellowcheek darter.
They were listed as endangered on Aug. 9, 2011, the FWS noted.
Officials want to make sure these species have a safe place to call home.
It's part of a public process that will receive input through the month of December, FWS spokesperson Tom MacKenzie told IB Times.
The proposed areas are located in several counties in southeastern states, including McCreary and Whitley counties in Kentucky and Etowah, Jefferson, and Winston counties in Alabama.
Those are all areas that have been researched to sustain the population at one point or currently have the population, MacKenzie said.
He said the five fish species are extremely rare and that the choosing of the locations were science-based decisions on where the best habitat is.
The FWS noted that designating an area as a critical habitat would not affect private land ownership.
Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership, establish a refuge or preserve, and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits, the FWS said in a statement. It does not allow government or public access to private land.