For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Kenk's Amphipod Moves Closer to Endangered Species Act Protection

Tiny Crustacean Threatened by Water Pollution, Pesticides Would Be Second Endangered Species Found in Nation's Capital

WASHINGTON - In accordance with an agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity that speeds protection decisions for 757 species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to protect the Kenk’s amphipod as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act. The Kenk’s amphipod is critically imperiled and may live in as few as five tiny springs in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. The amphipod was first identified as a candidate species worthy of endangered species protection in 2011; the Service now has 12 months to make a final decision on whether to protect it.

“I live next to Rock Creek Park, and am really happy that this little critter will soon get the protection it desperately needs,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center. “Although it may be one of the most uncharismatic species considered for protection under the Act, these tiny crustaceans are a bellwether for the health of D.C.’s freshwater springs and creeks. And what they’re telling us about our water quality is not good.” 

The decline of the Kenk’s amphipod has paralleled the decline of freshwater springs in the D.C. area. In the capital’s early years, many residents drew their water directly from freshwater springs throughout the city. Today every monitored water body in the region is classified as “impaired” by the Environmental Protection Agency. Century-old sewer systems continue to discharge raw sewage into Rock Creek just a half-mile upstream of the White House during large rainfall events. Pollution and pesticides, including from the nearby Rock Creek golf course, continue to degrade water quality in Rock Creek Park.

“Protecting these amphipods will have many benefits for people by helping protect Rock Creek Park and fresh water in the D.C. area,” said Hartl.

To date 176 plants and animals have received protection as a result of the Center’s 2011 agreement, and another 21 are proposed for protection, including the amphipod.  Read more about the Center’s 757 agreement.


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