For Immediate Release, October 5, 2022
Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495, firstname.lastname@example.org
Critical Habitat Proposed for Louisiana Pinesnake in Louisiana, Texas
Pinesnake, Dozens of Other Species Endangered by Loss of Longleaf Pine Forests
NEW ORLEANS— In response to litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed today to protect 209,520 acres of critical habitat for the Louisiana pinesnake in central Louisiana and east Texas.
The pinesnake has disappeared from most of its range as open, old-growth longleaf pine forests have been lost to logging and development.
“We absolutely need to protect the longleaf pine forests that Louisiana pinesnakes call home,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “Longleaf pine forests used to blanket the Southeast, but now only occur in small pockets. Saving the unique and beautiful Louisiana pinesnake means saving a little bit more of these forests too.”
Louisiana pinesnakes are one of roughly 30 protected endangered and threatened species that require longleaf pine forests, including red-cockaded woodpeckers and eastern indigo snakes. Pinesnakes need open forests with sandy, well-drained soils inhabited by their favorite prey — Baird’s pocket gophers. The pocket gophers also provide burrows used by the snakes. Pinesnakes spend most of their time underground and are harmless to people.
Urbanization, agriculture, forest conversion due to logging, and suppression of natural fires have degraded the vast majority of longleaf pine forests. Development also exposes snakes to being run over on roads that fragment their habitat. Though historically Louisiana pinesnakes ranged across nine Louisiana parishes and 14 Texas counties, they now inhabit only four Louisiana parishes and five Texas counties.
Nearly two-thirds of the critical habitat proposed today is found on public lands, including the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana and the Angelina National Forest in Texas. Designation of critical habitat doesn’t create a preserve, but rather it requires federal agencies to ensure actions they fund, permit or carry out don’t destroy or adversely modify critical habitat.
“Once this critical habitat is finalized, it’ll give the Louisiana pinesnake a fighting chance at survival,” said Greenwald. “You just can’t protect a species without protecting the places it lives.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.