CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- The U.S. Forest Service is raising concerns about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project and its potential impacts on a couple of species of threatened salamanders.
According to a release from Wild Virginia, the USFS sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this month about two rare species of salamander, the Cheat Mountain salamander and the Cow Knob salamander.
Under Draft State Wildlife Plans in Virginia and West Virginia, both species are listed as needing protection to prevent habitat loss.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries says the Cow Knob salamander is at an extremely high risk for extinction due to its limited habitat range in the Appalachian Mountains.
The USFS has determined that the effects of the ACP on the Cow Knob salamander must be avoided.
It recommends changing the route of the pipeline to avoid as much of the salamanders' habitats as possible, possibly going south of South Sister Knob and Chestnut Ridge or north of Romney, West Virginia.
Another proposal would have the pipeline construction crews bore through Shenandoah Mountain, but that would not eliminate impacts on the habitats of the two species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been petitioned to list the Cow Knob salamander under the Endangered Species Act, which will be reviewed next year.
Wild Virginia wants the USFS to request a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, to ensure FERC considers all of the impacts of the proposed pipelines.