Two species in North Carolina just received a special designation.
Both the Carolina madtom catfish and the Neuse River waterdog salamander have been listed under the Endangered Species Act, News Channel 12 reports.
"The Endangered Species Act is the most effective tool available to save plants and animals from extinction, so it's good news that these special North Carolina creek critters now have the habitat safeguards they need to survive," said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the small Carolina madtom was classified as an endangered species while the slightly larger Neuse River waterdog will receive protection as a threatened species.
"These animals are more than just part of North Carolina's rich biological heritage, they are important indicator species for clean water and healthy streams, which benefit us all," said Leopoldo Miranda-Castro, FWS Southeast Regional Director. "The protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act will help us support conservation efforts currently underway."
More than 250 miles of river will be designated as the madtom's critical habitat, as more than 80% of the streams it used to inhabit have been so degraded that they likely wouldn't survive if they returned, the news outlet reports. On the other side, nearly 800 river miles will be the critical habitat for the waterdog, which has been eliminated from 35% of its range in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico river basins.
"Protecting streams and rivers for small fish and salamanders also helps protect the healthy water quality that people need for drinking water and recreation," said Curry.