For Immediate Release, April 26, 2023
Will Harlan, (828) 230-6818, WHarlan@biologicaldiversity.org
South Llano Springs Moss Protected As Endangered, Denied Habitat Protection
Less Than Football Field of Habitat Remains for Rare Texas Moss
AUSTIN, Texas— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today protected the South Llano Springs moss as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, but the agency denied critical habitat protection. Globally only 1,000 square feet of this moss remain, at one vulnerable site.
“Listing this imperiled moss is an important step, but failing to safeguard its last known habitat dooms it to extinction,” said Will Harlan, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The South Llano Springs moss clings to survival in an area smaller than a football field. This last-chance habitat urgently needs protection.”
The South Llano Springs moss is an aquatic moss that grows on submerged rocks. Its interwoven mats are blue-green when shaded and yellow-green when exposed to full sun. It has only been documented in two locations and is already wiped out in one of them. The remaining site is at Seven Hundred Springs on the South Llano River in Edwards County, Texas.
Drought and agricultural pumping have already resulted in diminished and interrupted spring flows. Withdrawals for municipal development and overgrazing on adjacent lands have also led to long-term declines in the springs and underlying aquifer.
Protecting the last remaining springs and river as critical habitat for the South Llano Springs moss had previously been proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service. But the agency removed these habitat protections when finalizing protection today.
“We recognize that the private landowners have worked to help the moss, but critical habitat would have helped ensure the area was protected in perpetuity,” said Harlan.
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.