February 22, 2014 Two Central Texas Salamanders Get Endangered Species Act Protection
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protected the Georgetown and Salado salamanders this week under the Endangered Species Act. The decision was spurred by litigation involving the Center for Biological Diversity in 2011 that is forcing federal protection decisions for 757 species across the country.
The Georgetown and Salado salamanders live in springs in Bell and Williamson counties in central Texas.
Although the Service previously proposed to list the Georgetown and Salado salamanders as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act, the agency today instead protected them as “threatened.” The new rule recognizes state and local regulatory actions taken to benefit water quality, including Georgetown’s recently enacted ordinances, but finds that the salamanders still face unaddressed threats to their survival.
A total of 107 imperiled species from around the country have gained Endangered Species Act protection so far in response to the 2011 agreement with the Center, and another 28 have been proposed for protection.
Georgetown salamander (Williamson County): The Georgetown salamander is characterized by a broad, relatively short head with three pairs of bright-red gills on each side behind the jaws, a rounded and short snout and large eyes with gold irises. It’s known from springs along five tributaries to the San Gabriel River and three caves in Williamson County, Texas. The recharge and contributing zones of the northern segment of the Edwards Aquifer supply the water that feeds these springs. These zones are found in portions of Travis, Williamson, Bell, Burnet, Lampasas, Mills and Hamilton counties. The salamander is threatened by water pollution and low water flows.
Tags: Williamson County