The mussel is found in the lower stretches of the Ocmulgee River and in the Altamaha River, but has disappeared from the Oconee and Ohoopee rivers.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is designating critical habitat along the upper Altamaha, lower Ocmulgee and Ohoopee rivers in Appling, Ben Hill, Coffee, Jeff Davis, Long, Montgomery, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Wayne and Wheeler counties.
A legal settlement between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Center for Biological Diversity is giving the mussel its endangered status, effective next month.
The Telegraph reports Jimmy Rickard, a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says biologists have spent about 1,000 hours since 1997 searching rivers for Altamaha spinymussels, finding only about 60.