Carolina Heelsplitters are the only species of freshwater mussel in South Carolina that are federally classified as endangered, which may cause complications with your project when one is found. The Heelsplitter can also be found in certain parts of North Carolina. But don’t worry – ECS’ Ann-Marie Altman is here to help! As 1 of only 3 people in the entire state of South Carolina with a Federal Section 10 Endangered Species Collection Permit, Ann-Marie is an expert on surveying for Heelsplitters as well as helping with project management when Carolina Heelsplitters have been identified.
Where are Carolina Heelsplitters found?
The Carolina Heelsplitter is a freshwater mussel typically found within the Slate Belt Ecoregion of North Carolina and South Carolina. The Slate Belt Ecoregion includes the Pee Dee river basin in North Carolina and South Carolina as well as the Catawba, Saluda, and Savannah river basins in South Carolina, depicted on the map below:
How do I know if I need a survey?
Because they are federally endangered, a presence/absence survey is required in any body of water where Heelsplitters may be located prior to the start of a project that may impact the waterbody and/or disturb the habitat.
How long does a typical survey take?
Depending on the habitat, number of mussels, and the size of the stretch of the stream/river, a survey can take anywhere from one hour to a few days.
Can Heelsplitters be avoided and/or designed around?
When a Heelsplitter is identified, Ann-Marie can assist with design recommendations, best management practices, and other alternatives to avoid impacts to the waterbody that may disrupt the Heelsplitter’s habitat. She will also coordinate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement and oversee monitoring of the stream during and after construction.
After obtaining her permit by completing the required rigorous training and testing requirements, Ann-Marie has been able to provide valuable expertise on a variety of projects relating to the Heelsplitter. Her experience ranges from pipeline projects to transportation projects.
Get in contact with Ann-Marie today and learn how her expertise can help with your project!