An agreement to protect an endangered fish that put a wedge between environmentalists and developers of Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. (MTMUS) was reached on Thursday.
In a statement, the Center for Biological Diversity and Tennessee Riverkeeper said $6 million will be used to shore up protections for the critically endangered spring pygmy sunfish.
According to the Riverkeeper, $2 million will be used immediately for “habitat restoration and monitoring in the Beaverdam Spring and Creek watershed.”
MTMUS will set aside the remaining $4 million as a “restricted endowment” for “future conservation” efforts, which include “habitat restoration, captive propagation, genetic studies and reintroduction efforts.”
“Environmental sustainability and the conservation of natural habitat is a global priority for both Mazda and Toyota,” said Mark Brazeal, Vice President of Administration, MTMUS. “We are pleased that this effort to protect the sunfish and its habitat further demonstrates our commitment to protecting biodiversity, particularly regarding threatened and endangered species. We will continue to work with the conservation groups and environmental experts to develop our plant site sustainably.”
The agreement was made in order to stave off legal challenges from the environmental groups and allow the production of the manufacturing plant to move forward.
The City of Huntsville issued a statement on Thursday and said they are “pleased” an agreement was reached to proceed with MTMUS.
“We believe that with a focus on preservation of a habitat area, the Spring Pygmy Sunfish will continue thrive and increase in population such that new habitat areas can be established similar to the recently announced Blackwell Swamp population located within the National Wheeler Wildlife Refuge,” the city said in a statement.
“With this collaborative effort by multiple organizations, the future for the Spring Pygmy Sunfish will be stable and possibly no longer be threatened. Thanks to partners at Mazda and Toyota, there will be dedicated funding to continue this effort to ensure this pristine environment may exist for generations to come.”
Riverkeeper added that the conservation groups involved in the agreement “will not receive any monetary benefit from the agreement.”