The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed designating stream sections in McCreary and Whitley counties as critical habitat for a small, endangered fish.
The designation, aimed at protecting the Cumberland darter, would affect a total of about 53 stream miles in the two counties and in Campbell and Scott counties in northern Tennessee, according to a release from the agency issued Tuesday.
The service added the darter to the endangered species list in August. The fish survives in only short stretches of 12 streams in the upper Cumberland River system, the service said.
Under the habitat designation, federal agencies that fund or issue permits for activities such as building roads or mining would have to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service to make sure the activities wouldn't hurt or destroy the habitat.
The agency proposed designating 224 stream miles in four states as critical habitat for five fish. The range and abundance of the fish has declined because of habitat changes caused by mining, agricultural practices, sedimentation and other factors.
The agency will accept comments on the habitat proposal until Dec. 12 at http://www.regulations.gov or this address: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R4-ES-2011-0074; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.