Settlement to Protect Rare Sunfish

In December, Alabama’s Forever Wild Land Trust finalized a $10 million, 500-acre purchase of the Beaverdam Spring in Limestone County, Ala. Beaverdam Spring is home to the threatened spring pygmy sunfish, which was listed as threatened in 2013. The area is also near the construction site of a $1.6 billion Mazda Toyota auto plant, a significant source of pollutants.

The Center for Biological Diversity, a national wildlife protection organization, and the nonprofit environmental watchdogTennessee Riverkeeper, threatened to sue Mazda Toyota and the city of Huntsville in the summer of 2018 to protect the sunfish and its habitat. In December 2018, a settlement was reached and Mazda Toyota agreed to invest $6 million to protect the habitat, and to set aside an additional 1,100 acres of land for conservation.

The spring pygmy sunfish lives only in Alabama and has endured increasingly limited habitat due to pesticide and herbicide runoff, dam-induced flooding and sediment overflow. The threatened sunfish has only two known populations and has twice been declared extinct. — By Carolina Norman


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