Some authors (e.g., Clarke 1993) believe that the taxon howardi is simply a morphological variant of the widespread species Oreohelix strigosa. Oreohelix howardi is, however, currently recognized as a valid species by the American Fisheries Society (Turgeon et al. 1988, 1998).
No subspecies are recognized in this species.
Status in Utah
This is a narrow endemic, found only in Mill Creek Canyon, Salt Lake County. Currently 3 occurrences are known, one in each of two forks of Mill Creek Canyon and one in the main stem of the canyon. Because the current distribution of this species in the canyon is not completely understood, whether the occurrences should be considered one large colony or split into many smaller colonies cannot yet be determined.
Jones (1944) called this species "the common Oreohelix found in Mill Creek Canyon and its branches." Clarke (1993) reported: "This is a vigorous and healthy population and it appears to be very secure."
The increasing recreational use of Mill Creek Canyon, a narrow canyon on the very edge of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, may lead to degradation of this snail's habitat. Forest fire in this canyon, if severe, could extirpate this species.
No declines in this species since its original description in 1944 are apparent. However, continued monitoring of this population is warranted in view of the human use Mill Creek Canyon.
Investigation of the taxonomic status and validity of this species is necessary.
Habitats Utilized in Utah
Clarke (1993) found this species only on north-facing slopes, within "moist coniferous forests".