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Austin ES Office Kicks Off Karst Recovery Initiative
Southwest Region, February 6, 2008
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On February 6, 2008, the Austin Ecological Services hosted a kick-off meeting for a karst conservation initiative.  The purpose of the initiative is to increase effectiveness of conservation efforts for karst dependant species (particularly karst invertebrates and salamanders) in Travis and Williamson Counties by increasing collaboration and information sharing.

Travis and Williamson counties have one of the highest biological diversities of karst dependent species in the country.  There are at least 8 listed species and 4 candidate species that have most, if not all, of their entire range in these two counties and numerous other rare, and in some cases undescribed, species.

Cooperative conservation efforts have been ongoing in these counties for quite some time and the idea behind this initiative it to provide an increased opportunity for more collaboration and sharing of expertise and information.  The Service extended an open invitation to all parties interested in partnering in conservation efforts in this area.  The invitation was met with much interest, and the meeting was attended by at least 58 people from numerous organizations.  A diversity of Service programs attended as well, including Ecological Services, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, Fisheries, and Refuges. 

To begin the information sharing, presentations were given by four researchers on recent or ongoing work.  Presentations were also given on the overall species biodiversity in this area, the recovery objectives for the listed species, some conservation efforts that have occurred in the past or are ongoing, and the Strategic Habitat Conservation approach. 

Presentations were followed by a group discussion about participants’ interest in future collaboration and information sharing.  Enthusiasm was high and the group indicated they would like to meet again in a month.  Numerous participants expressed appreciation for the Service  organizing this effort and encouraged us to keep the ball rolling.

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



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