Take Action: Help Protect the Kentucky Arrow Darter!

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife recently proposed to place the Kentucky arrow darter on the Threatened list for coverage under the Endangered Species Act.  Take Action by December 7th!  Support this decision below!

If you’ve ever trekked through or by in-tact headwater streams in the upper Kentucky River Basin in eastern Kentucky, there’s a good chance that an arrow darter was present in those waters–or at least was at some point in history.  Many darters are beautiful fish, but are very small, typically no more than a few inches in length.

Kentucky arrow darter

Kentucky arrow darter photo by Dr. Matthew R. Thomas, Kentucky Departmen of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Unfortunately, the arrow darters, like many other darters, are very sensitive to pollution.  The decades of surface mining in eastern Kentucky have significantly impacted the water quality and habitat for darters.  Historically, the Kentucky arrow darter was present in at least 74 streams of the Upper Kentucky River Basin, but that range has been diminished significantly, including elimination from 36 of the 74 historical streams.

The threat to existing populations continues to remain high, due to continued surface mining operations, evolving oil and gas well extraction, timber harvesting, agricultural runoff and inadequate sewage treatment.

The designation of the Kentucky arrow darter as a Threatened species means that streams with existing populations will be designated as “critical habitat” and will receive increased scrutiny from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for activities that might impact that habitat.

Please take action and submit comments in support of the listing to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the end of the day on Monday, December 7th.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Copy the sample comment text below.
  2. Go to this link
  3. Paste the comment text into the Comment Box (first box on the screen), and personalize as desired.
  4. Fill out the rest of the form and click submit.

Sample Comment Text:


I am writing to urge you to move quickly to protect the Kentucky arrow darter under the Endangered Species Act. This beautiful fish has already been lost from nearly half of its range, and surviving populations are at high risk of extinction. As you know the darter is threatened by habitat loss from many activities, including coal mining and oil-and-gas development, and is vulnerable to global climate change. The best available science clearly shows that the darter warrants federal protection.

As you prepare to finalize your proposal, it’s also extremely important that you protect the darter’s critical habitat. Doing so will safeguard the streams this fish needs to survive, and it will have the added benefit of ensuring clean water for many other species and people throughout these Appalachian watersheds. The darter makes up a special part of eastern Kentucky’s natural heritage. A positive ESA listing will make sure it stays that way.



Thanks for helping protect Kentucky’s sensitive aquatic species and water quality!