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Is $29 Million Too Much To Protect Texas Salamander Habitat?

U.S. Fish and Wildlife

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking for public comment about granting federal protection for new salamander species in Central Texas.

Protecting these little guys it’s going to cost about $29 million in economic impact over the next 23 years.

  • Austin blind salamander
  • Jollyville Plateau salamander
  • Georgetown salamander
  • Salado salamander

"What important to know about the estimated cost is that it’s just in regard to critical habitat and federal agencies," said Adam Zerrenner, the Austin ecological field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The federal protection would designate about 6,000 acres in three counties -- Bell, Travis and Williamson -- as critical habitat. Zerrenner said the service says it does not foresee impacts to utility projects, mining, livestock grazing or water management.

However, the Salamanders do depend on spring flow from the Edwards Aquifer.  

“If we have salamanders in these springs then that is in all likelihood a good indicator that the water is clean and also be good for people in the area," said Zerrenner.

The public can comment on the report during the next 45 days.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi