Today the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced its decision to list the Sharpnose Shiner and the Smalleye Shiner minnows as an “endangered” species. They also created a designated critical habitat for these species located within portions of the Upper Brazos River Basin from Garza County south near Possum Kingdom Reservoir. This action will have an impact on water supplies within the designated habitat area. Fortunately, none of the City of Lubbock’s current surface water supplies are located within the shiners’ critical habitat area. However, a few potential surface water supply strategies described in the City’s 2013 Strategic Water Supply Plan are impacted.
In 2013, the City participated in the USFWS public hearing and public comment process to address the City’s interests and commitment to responsible planning to minimize federal interference with local activities. The City remains actively engaged in assessing the proposed listing through a science-based approach.
The City’s position throughout USFWS’s review period has been that measures are already in place in the Brazos River Basin that protect stream flow and the habitat of the Sharpnose and Smalleye Shiner. The City remains committed to a balanced approach to protecting the species while also protecting the interests of Lubbock’s citizens.
Texas Senate Bill 3, passed in 2007, provides a comprehensive, science-based approach to managing stream flows in every river basin in the state in a way that protects the environment. The City is actively engaged in the Brazos River Basin stream flow planning efforts. This management effort ensures a local approach under state law that addresses concerns for the Shiner species.
The final rule from the USFWS will be formally published in the Federal Register on August 4, 2014, and will become effective 30 days after publication. The Endangered Species Act defines an endangered species as any species that is at risk of extinction.