The following information is provided to help you understand the Federal listing status of four salamanders in central Texas. These salamanders include: Austin blind salamander (Eurycea waterlooensis), Jollyville Plateau salamander (Eurycea tonkawae), Georgetown salamander (Eurycea naufragia), and Salado salamander (Eurycea chisholmensis).
All four salamander species are entirely aquatic and depend on water from the Edwards Aquifer in sufficient quantity and quality to meet their life history requirements for survival, growth, and reproduction. The Austin blind salamander resides in the Barton Springs Segment of the Edwards Aquifer, while the other three species reside in habitat dependent on the Northern Segment of the Edwards Aquifer, including springs and spaces in the subsurface aquifer. The most significant threat to these four species is degradation of their aquatic habitat in the form of reduced water quality, resulting from increasing urbanization in the area.
The Service is proposing to list as endangered and designate critical habitat for the Austin blind, Jollyville Plateau, Georgetown, and Salado salamanders. Information indicates that these species are presently in danger of extinction throughout their entire ranges, based on the immediacy, severity and scope of the threats from habitat degradation. The four species are proposed as endangered because the threats are occurring now or are imminent and their potential impacts to the species would be catastrophic given the very limited range of the species, making the salamanders at risk of extinction.
Initiation of the listing proposal process for the four central Texas salamanders is a part of the terms of a multi-year listing work plan approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on September 9, 2011. This work plan, developed through a settlement agreement with WildEarth Guardians and a separate, smaller settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, will enable the agency to systematically, over a period of 6 years, review and address the needs of more than 250 species now on the candidate list, to determine if they require ESA protection. The four salamanders have been on the candidate list for 5 to 10 years. A list of these candidate species is available by clicking on the Candidate Notice of Review link in the first paragraph at the Service's Listing Workplan website.
We will consider comments on the four central Texas salamanders proposed rule received or postmarked on or before October 22, 2012. Upon the publication of the economic analysis of the proposed critical habitat this fall, the Service will re-open the public comment period for 45 days. You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2012–0035. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”
By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R2–ES–2012–0035; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
Two public informational meetings followed by public hearings were held in Travis and Williamson counties on September 5-6, 2012 regarding the proposed listing of the four salamander species. The informational meetings provided interested stakeholders an opportunity to ask questions related to the proposed rule. The public hearings were formal events where public comments related to the proposal were captured for the record by a court reporter. Transcripts of the hearings can be downloaded using the links below.