JACKSON — Federal authorities are proposing to protect more than 330,000 acres of critical habitat in Mississippi and Alabama for black pine snakes that are found only in longleaf pine forests in those states.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday that the forests have been reduced to less than 5 percent of their historic extent. The agency says the snake depends on the forests, which are being lost to agriculture and pine plantations, fire suppression and urbanization.
The rule proposes to protect 338,100 acres in Forrest, George, Greene, Harrison, Jones, Marion, Perry, Stone and Wayne counties in Mississippi and in Clarke County, Alabama. Federal lands make up more than 70 percent of the proposed protected acreage.