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The Jollyville Plateau salamander (Eurycea tonkawae). Photo credit: © Piers Hendrie.
U.S. Rep. John Carter of Texas announced he will introduce federal legislation to try and stop the federal government from placing four species of Texas salamanders onto the Endangered Species List. Carter's legislation is an amendment to an interior and environment appropriations bill that would block funds from being used to add any populations of salamanders that can be found in the towns of Salado, Jollyville Plateau, Georgetown, or Austin, to the list. The four salamander species are the Salado salamander (Eurycea chisholmensis), Jollyville Plateau salamander (Eurycea tonkawae), Georgetown salamander (Eurycea naufragia), and the Austin blind salamander (Eurycea waterlooensis).
According to Carter, if the salamanders are listed as endangered, development in Williamson, Travis, and Bell counties could stop. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, however, have cited development in these counties, and especially around the springs in which these salamanders live, as a possible reason to list the salamanders as endangered.
“There is overwhelming evidence to support listing these salamander species as endangered due to the small extent of each species’ range, which all fall within the path of rapid urbanization and woefully insufficient regulatory protections for both water quality and spring flows,” Bill Brunch, executive director of Austin’s Save Our Springs Alliance said in a news report that appeared in the Statesman, an online Texas newspaper.
It is expected that the federal government will hand down a decision on whether or not it will list these salamanders as endangered by the end of the summer.