On August 20, 2013, the Service announced the listing of the Austin blind and Jollyville Plateau salamanders under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the designation of 4,451 acres of critical habitat for both species in portions of Travis and Williamson Counties, Texas. The Service also published a 6-month extension of the final determinations for the Georgetown and Salado salamanders and is reopening the public comment period for 30 days.
The following additional 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 and quantity and disturbance of spring sites.
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 were 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.
For more information on candidates and the listing program, you can read:
At certain times during the listing process, the Service publishes documents and requests public comments. Comments can be submitted electronically or by hard copy. As warranted, the Service also provides public hearings and accepts verbal coments at those time.
First Comment Period (Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2012-0035): The first comment period for the proposed salamander listing process ended October 22, 2012. During that period, the Service asked for comments regarding the Proposed Rule and designation of critical habitat.
The Service also held, two public information meetings and public hearings in Travis and Williamson counties on September 5-6, 2012 regarding the proposed listing of the four salamander species. The informational meetings provided interested parties 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.
Documents available during the first comment period included:
You can view comments provided during the first comment period at http://www.regulations.gov. You will need to put "Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2012-0035" in the search box to get the appropriate information. From the results you get with that search, you will need to find the section with the note: Proposed Rule by FWS on 8/22/2012. Click on "open Docket Folder" on the right side of that section. The comments can be found after the primary and supporting document links.
Transcripts of the hearings can be downloaded using the links below.
Second Comment Period (Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2013-0001): A second comment period opened on January 25, 2013 and closed on March 11, 2013. Comments were sought during this comment period regarding the draft Economic Analysis of the effects of designating critical habitat and to changes to the proposed critical habitat which were outlined in the January 25, 2013 Notice of Availability. These changes to the proposed critical habitat were based on new information submitted during the first comment period. Comments on the proposed listing were also accepted during the second comment period.
Documents available during the second comment period included:
To view comments received during the second comment period, visit http://www.regulations.gov. and put "FWS-R2-ES-2013-0001" in the search box. Click "Open Docket Folder" on the right to see additional information and scroll down to the comments section.
Third Comment Period (Opened - 8/20/2013, Closed - 9/19/2013): During the reopened 30-day public comment period for the Georgetown and Salado salamanders, the Service solicited input from concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry and other interested parties. Written comments had to be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on September 19, 2013. For further information on how to review and/or download these documents see below. The Service will make a final listing determination for the Georgetown and Salado salamanders no later than February 22, 2014.
To view comments received during the third comment period, visit http://www.regulations.gov. and put the appropriate docket number (see below) in the search box. Click "Open Docket Folder" on the right to see additional information and scroll down to the comments section
Docket No. for Listing: FWS-R2-ES-2012-0035
Docket No. for Critical Habitat:
Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2013-0001
Documents available for review during third comment period included: