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Public Hearing on Draft Williamson County Regional Plan Held
Southwest Region, June 16, 2008
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 A public hearing was be held on June 16, 2008, from 5 pm to 8 pm at the Williamson County Courthouse in Georgetown, Texas.  The hearing was to allow the public an opportunity to comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement and draft Regional Habitat Conservation Plan for Williamson County, Texas that accompanied the County's application for an incidental take permit, pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as amended.  The comment period is open until July 15, 2008.  Several comments were received at the meeting, and the proposed regional plan was generally well received. 

The requested permit, for a period of 30 years, if granted, would authorize incidental take of the following federally listed species: two birds, golden-cheeked warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia), and black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla); and two underground (karst) invertebrates, Bone Cave harvestman (Texella reyesi), and Coffin Cave mold beetle (Batrisodes texanus).  The proposed take would occur in Williamson County, Texas, as a result of otherwise lawful activities including road construction, maintenance, and improvement projects; utility construction and maintenance; school development and construction; public or private construction and development; and land clearing.  Such actions cause effects to upland and underground (karst) habitats. 

The regional permit would provide a simplified, quick process for development projects to comply with the Act while providing for conservation of listed species.  Mitigation for the proposed actions for listed birds includes purchasing up to 1,000 acres of credit in an existing conservation bank for golden-cheeked warbler and purchasing additional land containing habitat for in Williamson County.  Mitigation for impacts to karst invertebrates includes acquiring, protecting, and monitoring 9 to 15 areas for conservation of listed species. 

Mitigation would be funded from five primary sources: 1) mitigation fees collected from participants, 2) return on endowment investments, 3) County land acquisition funds for parks and open space, 4) County advance funding from road improvement mitigation funds, and 5) a tax benefit financing program from land develeoed under the permit. 

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



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