US seeks protections for diamond darter, habitat

CHARLESTON (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed protecting a rare fish called the diamond darter and more than 120 miles of its Elk River habitat in West Virginia and Kentucky.

The nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity said Wednesday that the decision stems from a legal settlement that would speed decisions on Endangered Species Act protections for more than 750 species.

The diamond darter was considered extinct until scientists rediscovered it in West Virginia in 1980. Fewer than 50 of them have been collected over the past 30 years.

Mountaintop-removal coal mining, oil and gas extraction and untreated sewage are among threats to the diamond darter.

Wednesday’s action proposes to protect the darters’ critical habitat in West Virginia’s Kanawha and Clay counties and Edmonson, Hart and Green counties in Kentucky.

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