Chevy Chase to fund DNA search for endangered species

Town  of Chevy ChaseThe Town of Chevy Chase Council on Wednesday agreed to fund a $20,000 search for the DNA of an endangered creek critter in streams and wetlands near the proposed Purple Line route.

The Council approved the funding through the form of a contribution to the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, a nonprofit suing the federal government over how the Purple Line might affect the habitat of a group of shrimp-like amphipods that have yet to be found in the area.

About $20,000 of the $25,388 the Town approved Wednesday will go toward DNA testing of the water and sediment of Rock Creek and Coquelin Run. The group is hoping the tests find the shed DNA of the amphipods, which could prove the species live in the area or that the habitat is suitable for them to live there.

The species, an indicator of water quality, live in underground seeps and are difficult to find.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said over the summer that the federal agencies involved in the lawsuit and the Maryland Transit Administration met with environmentalists and some Chevy Chase residents on Aug. 11.

The Fish and Wildlife Service reviewed its findings from last year in light of the new information from the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, which hired American University biologist Dr. David Culver to survey for amphipods last spring near the proposed Purple Line route.

That study was conducted with a previous contribution from the Town of Chevy Chase, which is officially opposed to the Purple Line.

Culver didn’t find any amphipods, but did find new areas of seeps and wetlands where three species of amphipods could live, the Friends group claimed.

The group said it should be able to release results of the latest study next summer.

The Town Council also agreed to contribute $9,000 to the Chevy Chase Elementary School PTA for six new computers, $60,000 to The Writer’s Center for its ongoing renovation and $132,000 to the Bethesda- Chevy Chase Rescue Squad for a new ambulance and 30 sets of new firefighting gear.

The contributions mean the Town has used up $226,388 of the $300,000 it set aside for “charitable contributions” this fiscal year. The Town will go through another cycle of contribution requests in the spring.

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