Crayfish Protection and the Impact on Mining

April 10, 2015


Plans to protect crayfish may have an impact on a portion of the mining industry. The impact is not likely to be positive.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to declare Appalachian crayfish as endangered. What does this have to do with the mining industry? The proposal could have far-reaching ramifications for the struggling eastern Kentucky mining industry.


Federal officials say the crayfish, which live and populate in streams in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia, are in danger of extinction.


The proposal is tied to a 2013 settlement agreement between the federal agency and the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that went to courts in an effort to gain protection for the crayfish. The group also claimed mountaintop removal coal mining is destroying the habitat.


However, one mining biologist based in Kentucky says mountaintop removal mining is only one factor in the decline of the crayfish.


The fish live beneath loose boulders in streams and rivers. The biologist says road development and land development could also be negatively impacted the habitat.


If crayfish do become listed as endangered, federal agencies that issue permits for activities like mining and road construction would have to consult with someone from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about ways to protect the fish.


The mining industry is complicated by many issues that are not directly tied to mining. It’s important to focus on the areas that can be controlled, such as reliable mining equipment.