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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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Austin Ecological Services Office Monthly Activities
Southwest Region, January 28, 2006
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Austin Ecological Services Office staff has begun working with Fisheries staff and other partners to propose development of the Desert Fish Habitat Partnership (DFHP) under the Service's National Fish Habitat Initiative.  Now in it's formative stages, the DFHP aims at bring a variety of resources together for the conservation of aquatic habitat for desert fish through science-based, voluntary, non-regulatory cooperation to result in positive, on-the-ground conservation actions to benefit aquatic ecosystems in the four deserts of North America (Chihuahuan, Sonoran, Mohave, and Great Basin).  The DFHP is envisioned as being driven by state and local agencies and may include parts of up to 10 states in the southwest.  A briefing statement and 3-page Q&A document were provided to the RD requesting support for this new initiative.

After four years of negotiation with the Austin Ecological Services Office, a section 10(a)(1)(B) permit was issued to Lumbermen’s Investment Corporation.  This permit authorizes the incidental take of the golden-cheeked warbler associated with an 846-acre residential/resort/golf development.  The Service was also able to work with Lumbermen’s Investment Corporation so that impacts to federally listed Edwards Aquifer species were avoided.  As a result of this permit, approximately 760 acres on-site will be preserved and managed for the golden-cheeked warbler in perpetuity.  This preserve is adjacent to another 331-acre warbler preserve that was set aside through a settlement agreement with the Indian Springs development.  These preserves establish the beginning of a third large-scale preserve in Bexar County.  This permit also forms the nexus for a possible nontraditional section 6 grant that has been submitted by the Nature Conservancy of Texas.  If awarded, this grant will be used to link these properties to other protected warbler habitat in Comal County.  Ultimately, it is hoped this large-scale preserve will be approximately 6,000-8,000 acres.

The Draft Jim Small Safe Harbor Agreement went to the RO for reivew on  Feb. 8th.  The Houston toad has been documented on the Small Ranch.  Public lands within Bastrop County that are known to support Houston toads and its habitat within one mile of the Small Ranch include Bastrop and Buescher State Parks and the Lower Colorado River Authority's property around Lake Bastrop.  It is also adjacent to the Bob Long Ranch where another Safe Harbor Agreement is currently in place.

Austin Ecolocial Services Office staff provided information to Dexter NFH&TC and Inks Dam NFH to be used in the preparation of a Captive Propagation Plan for endangered Clear Creek gambusia at Inks.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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