The Perryville Board of Aldermen on Tuesday unanimously approved a conservation plan designed to protect an endangered fish believed to exist only in Perry County. The move allows the city to enter into an agreement with county, state and federal entities to implement the Perry County Community Conservation Plan. Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the grotto sculpin as an endangered species. The conservation plan is meant to protect the small fish -- which is believed to be found exclusively in five Perry County caves -- from water-quality issues while keeping the federal government from declaring Perry County "critical habitat" for the fish. Community leaders have expressed concern that a critical habitat designation could hurt efforts to attract business by bringing increased scrutiny from regulators. The plan documents actions the community has taken or will take to protect the fish. Perryville's management of hundreds of sinkholes -- many of which have been used as trash dumps in the past -- to prevent groundwater contamination that could kill the fish. City administrator Brent Buerck said Fish and Wildlife Service officials had scheduled a community meeting for next week to discuss the next steps in implementing the plan, but the federal government shutdown forced the agency to postpone the meeting.
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