(AL.com) — A large aquatic salamander found only in the Black Warrior River basin in Alabama has been granted federal protections under the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that the Black Warrior waterdog -- also called the Alabama mudpuppy -- has been listed as an endangered species under the Act.
Conservation groups call the waterdog one of the most endangered amphibians in the country, and its populations have been heavily impacted by habitat degradation and segmentation, as well as pollution and sedimentation of the Black Warrior tributaries in which it lives.
As part of the listing, the Fish and Wildlife Service designated 420 river miles within the river basin as critical habitat for the waterdog. That designation requires all entities that receive federal funding to ensure that their actions don't imperil the species. It does not impact what private landowners can do on their own lands, so long as those actions don't require a federal permit on their own.
The FWS said in its announcement said the critical habitat designation "should have minimal or no impact on the forestry and coal mining community."