Ecological Services
Southwest Region
"Conserving the Nature of America"


Austin Texas
Ecological Services Field Office

10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200 . Austin, Texas 78758 . PH: (512) 490-0057



Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) Scoping Meetings Announcement

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced in the Federal Register today that it intends to prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the impacts of, and alternatives to, the proposed issuance of an Endangered Species Act permit to the Lower Colorado River Authority Transmission Services Corporation (LCRA TSC; Applicant) for incidental take of six federally-listed or candidate species. Species proposed to be covered under the requested incidental take permit include: the golden-cheeked warbler, black-capped vireo, least tern, whooping crane, bald eagle, and black-tailed prairie dog.

The permit would allow incidental take associated with construction, maintenance, operation, and repair of four Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) “priority” transmission lines and related facilities (e.g., substations, substation upgrades, and access roads) that are required to be constructed by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) (collectively, the LCRA TSC CREZ transmission lines). Counties in the proposed permit area include portions of Tom Green, Schleicher, Sutton, Mason, Menard, Kimble, Kerr, Kendall, Irion, Gillespie, Llano, Burnet, San Saba, and Lampasas counties. The Service also announced plans for a series of public scoping meetings and began a 90 day public comment period. Written comments on alternatives and issues to be addressed in the draft EIS must be received by close of business on June 17, 2010. Public scoping meetings will be held at locations throughout LCRA’s proposed 14-county permit area.

LCRA will place ads in local newspapers announcing the various locations, dates, and times at least two weeks in advance, and place the information on their website: http://www.LCRA.org (copy and paste site URL into a web browser).

News Release (.pdf file)
Federal Register NOI (.pdf file)
Map of Transmission Line Corridors (.pdf file)


Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP) Scoping Meetings Announcement

On March 11, 2010 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the intent to prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate the impacts of, and alternatives to, the proposed issuance of a section 10(a)(l)(B) permit (also known as a Habitat Conservation Plan, or HCP) to one or more members of the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program. The Applicant(s) proposes to apply for an incidental take permit through development and implementation of an HCP for seven federally listed species from activities associated with management and use of the Edwards Aquifer. The Edwards Aquifer supplies water for areas associated with the Comal and San Marcos springs, including Austin and San Antonio, Texas.

The proposed incidental take permit may cover seven species listed as endangered or threatened within the proposed permit area. These species include: fountain darter (Etheostoma fonticola), San Marcos salamander (Eurycea nana), San Marcos gambusia (Gambusia georgei), Texas blind salamander (Eurycea rathbuni), Peck's cave amphipod (Stygobromus pecki), Comal Springs dryopid beetle (Stygoparnus comalensis), and the Comal Springs riffle beetle (Heterelemis comalensis). The Service will also evaluate possible impacts to species not listed here, such as Texas wild rice and the whooping crane.

Public scoping meetings will be held at seven locations throughout South Central and South Texas during the month of April. Comments regarding the proposed actions must be received by close of business on June 3, 2010.

For further information, click on the documents or visit the websites listed below (you will have to copy and paste the web site URL's into a web browser).

EARIP Meetings Calendar
News Release
Federal Register Document

EARIP website: http://earip.tamu.edu OR http://edwardsrip.org

Calendar page: http://earip.tamu.edu/Calendar.aspx


Concho water snake Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan Announcement

Concho water snake The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register on September 23, 2009, announcing the Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan for the Concho water snake (Nerodia paucimaculata). A 30-day public review and comment period will begin September 23, 2009 and all comments must be received by October 23, 2009.
News Release
Notice of Availability
Q & A's
Draft Plan


Rio Grande Silvery Minnow 10(j) Final Rule and Environmental Assessment

The reach of the Rio Grande that flows through Big Bend Ranch State Park, Big Bend National Park, and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River will play an important role in recovering a native fish that has been absent from Texas waters for nearly fifty years. According to a rule published on December 8, 2008, in the Federal Register, the Rio Grande silvery minnow will be reintroduced into its namesake river under a provision of the Endangered Species Act that places no burden on private landowners and water users, yet allows an opportunity to move this endangered species closer to recovery by reestablishing it in a reach of the Rio Grande where it was once common.

Rio Grande silvery minnow
Rio Grande silvery minnow

Approximately 500,000 Rio Grande silvery minnows will be released into the river on December 17, 2008. The release supports the agency's plan to recover the rare minnow so that it no longer needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

News Release
Final Environmental Assessment
Final Rule

Texas Snowbell 5-Year Review

Texas snowbell The Texas snowbell was listed as endangered in 1984. More than two decades of research, monitoring, reintroduction, and searching has greatly increased our knowledge of the biology of the species, refined the distribution (a three county area - Edwards, Real, and Val Verde), and almost 1,000 plants have been located range-wide.
Herbivory, however, is still the primary threat to the continued existence of Texas snowbells throughout its range. While there has been an increase in conservation efforts by private landowners for this species, available data indicate population numbers are still not at levels that are believed necessary for long-term viability. Additionally, there are no protections in place, such as fencing of plants, to ensure long-term survival for the species. Therefore, the 5-year status review recommended no change in classification.

5-Year Review


Devils River Minnow 5-Year Review

The Devils River minnow (Dionda diaboli) , federally listed as threatened since1999, is a fish that occurs in streams tributary to the Rio Grande in Texas and northern Mexico. Its range in the U.S. is limited to Val Verde and Kinney counties, Texas.
Recent status reviews of the Devils River minnow were included in the critical habitat designation, published in August 2008, and the Devils River Minnow Recovery Plan, completed in 2005. These analyses indicate that the species remains threatened by Factor A, related to habitat loss, and Factor C, which include impacts from nonnative species. Based on this information, the 5-year review of the Devils River minnow concluded that the fish remains threatened throughout all of its range.

5-Year Review


Designation of Critical Habitat for the Devils River Minnow

Devils River minnow

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated approximately 16.5 miles of critical habitat for the Devils River minnow (Dionda diaboli) located in spring-fed streams in Val Verde and Kinney Counties, Texas.

News Release
Economic Analysis
FINAL RULE
Literature Cited
Q & A


Concho Water Snake Proposed for Delisting

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces that the Concho water snake should be removed from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species. The proposed rule, published in the Federal Register on July 8, 2008, has a comment due date of September 8. The snake inhabits portions of the Colorado and Concho rivers in central Texas (see map).

Concho water snake Comments can be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov or by mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket FWS-R2-ES-2008-0037; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Dr., Ste 222, Arlington, VA 22203.


Bexar County Invertebrates DRAFT Recovery Plan

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the availability of the draft Bexar County Karst Invertebrates Recovery Plan (draft Plan) for public comment. Nine Bexar County karst invertebrates were listed as endangered species on December 26, 2000 (65 FR 81419). These species inhabit caves and mesocaverns (humanly impassable voids in karst limestone) in Bexar County, Texas. Once finalized, the draft Plan is intended to identify objectives and tasks needed to remove these species from the endangered species list.

The closing date for receiving comments is July 15, 2008. Comments can be mailed to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 10711 Burnet Rd. Suite #200, Austin, TX 78758 or emailed to BexarKIrecplan@fws.gov.

To open the draft plan (Adobe .pdf format) Click here, or to simply save the document, right-mouse click on the link and select "Save Target as".


Economic Analysis of Devils River minnow Proposed Critical Habitat

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the draft economic analysis for the proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the threatened Devils River minnow is available for public review. The Service proposed critical habitat for the fish, which occurs in Val Verde and Kinney counties, Texas, on July 31, 2007. The economic analysis evaluates the costs associated with the proposed critical habitat. The service is also reopening the comment period for the proposed rule and announcing an upcoming public hearing on the proposal.

Devils River minnow This small fish - adults reach approiximately 2 inches in length - is currently know to occupy three streams, all tributaries to the Rio Grande. Critical habitat for the fish is being proposed in parts of each of those streams: the Devils River, San Felipe Creek and Pinto Creek.

Comments may be submitted until March 10 at: http://www.regulations.gov, or by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-AV25; DPDM; USFWS; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.

We will hold a public hearing on February 27, 2008, in Del Rio, Texas, in the Kennedy Room, Del Rio Civic Center, 1915 Veterans Blvd. An informal information session will be held from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm and the public hearing will begin at 7:00 pm. For questions please contact Nathan Allan at (512) 490-0057, ext. 237, or Nathan_Allan@fws.gov.

Draft Economic Analysis of Devils River Minnow Proposed Critical Habitat
News Release Announcing Economic Analysis
Proposed Critical Habitat Notice
Notice of Availability of Economic Analysis
Peer Review of Proposed Critical Habitat Rule
Devils River Minnow Q & A's

DRAFT Environmental Assessment/Habitat Conservation Plan for GDF Realty Investments, Ltd., et al.

The Service announces the opening of the public comment period for the draft Environmental Assessment/Habitat Conservation Plan (EA/HCP) for GDF Realty Investments, Ltd., and Purcell Investments, L.P., for an incidental take permit (TE?171255) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) for the golden-cheeked warbler(Dendroica chrysoparia) and five karst invertebrates: Tooth Cave spider (Neoleptoneta myopica), Bone Cave harvestman (Texella reyesi), Tooth Cave pseudoscorpion (Tartarocreagris texana), Kretschmarr Cave mold beetle (Texamaurops reddelli), and Tooth Cave ground beetle (Rhadine persephone). The proposed take would occur as the result of construction and operation of a residential, commercial, and/or retail development with associated streets and utilities on portions of the approximately 70-acre GDF property in Austin, Travis County, Texas.

The Service seeks comments from the public or any other interested party on the draft EA/HCP. All comments must be received by February 29, 2008. Written comments may be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin, Ecological Services Office, 10711 Burnet Rd. Suite #200, Austin, TX, 78758 or faxed to 512-490-0974, attention: Adam Zerrenner.

Click here to download Draft Plan.


12-Month Finding on a Petition To List the Jollyville Plateau salamander

On December 13, 2007, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a 12-month finding on a petition to list the Jollyville Plateau salamander (Eurycea tonkawae) as an endangered species. Following a status review of the best available scientific and commercial data, we found that the threats to the continued existence of this species supported a positive finding that listing under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, is warranted. However, given the large number of pending listing actions, we found that listing the Jollyville Plateau salamander is warranted, but precluded by other listing actions of higher priority. The Service now considers this species as a candidate for listing.

Click here to download the document.


Critical Habitat for Comal Springs

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized its critical habitat designation for two beetles and an amphipod, a shrimp-like crustacean. The three endangered species are the Comal Springs riffle beetle, Comal Springs dryopid beetle, and Pecks cave amphipod.

Comal Springs riffle beetle Comal Springs dryopid beetle Peck's cave amphipod
Comal Springs riffle beetle
Comal Springs dryopid beetle
Peck's cave amphipod

These species are aquatic and are known to occur only in four spring systems associated with the Edwards aquifer in central (Comal and Hays Counties) Texas. All three are quite small; for example, the riffle beetle is 2 millimeters (1/8th inch) long or about as long as an uncooked spaghetti noodle is wide.

The three freshwater species share something in common with the more than 180,000 human residents of the two counties ? they prefer their water unpolluted. Water quality and quantity are important concerns for the species, as well as the ecological health of the spring systems.

News Release Announcing Final Critical Habitat Designation

Caution - some of the pdf documents below are very large. For best results, right-mouse click and choose "Save Target As." Save the file to your local drive and open after downloading is complete.

FINAL Critical Habitat Notice
FINAL Critical Habitat Economic Analysis
FINAL Critical Habitat Maps - Black/White
FINAL Critical Habitat Maps - Color
PROPOSED Critical Habitat Notice
DRAFT Critical Habitat Economic Analysis


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has prepared a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed construction and range improvement projects at the Hill Country Shooting Sports Center, Kerrville, Texas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department submitted the proposed project to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for funding under the Wildlife Restoration Act grant program administered by the Service. This notice is published to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Service seeks comments from the public and any other interested parties on any part of the EA. Comments must be received by the Service by October 19, 2006. Written comments may be submitted to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Federal Assistance, 500 Gold St. SW, Suite 9019, Albuquerque, NM 87102, faxed to 505/248-7471, or e-mailed to HCSSC@fws.gov


USFWS Section 10(a)(1)(A) Scientific Permit Requirements for Conducting Presence/Absence Surveys for Endangered Karst Invertebrates in Central Texas

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has developed a document that outlines the USFWS process for conducting presence/absence surveys for federally-listed endangered terrestrial karst invertebrate species in Travis, Williamson, and Bexar counties, Texas, under a section 10(a)(1)(A) permit issued by the USFWS under the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as amended.

Bexar, Travis, Williamson Counties Texas Map

Section 10(a)(1)(A) permits, also referred to as recovery, enhancement of survival, or scientific permits, allow for 'take' of listed species that may or will occur while conducting research to further the recovery of a listed species. This document outlines methods to be used, information to be included in final reports, and minimum qualifications for personnel conducting presence/absence surveys for endangered karst invertebrates under a section 10(a)(1)(A) permit.

The objective of this document is to identify survey methods that will produce sound scientific information upon which to base decisions and actions for the conservation of these endangered species. Using consistent survey methodology will also allow for greater comparison and analysis of results, and thereby increase our understanding of these species and their habitat requirements. Information that relates to the effectiveness of these survey guidelines in conserving endangered karst species is welcome.

Procedures for Conducting Presence/absence Survey


Barton Springs Salamander Recovery Plan

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to announce the availability of the approved Barton Springs Salamander (Eurycea sosorum)Recovery Plan. The Barton Springs salamander is a small amphibian known only from Barton Springs located in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas.

The salamander was listed as an endangered species in 1997 primarily due to threats from degradation of water quality and quantity.

Barton Springs Salamander image


Pecos Sunflower Recovery Plan

The final Recovery Plan for the threatened Pecos Sunflower (Helianthus paradoxus) has been approved by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. A Fact Sheet is also available.

The Pecos sunflower occurs in seven populations; two occur in west Texas and five are located in New Mexico. Two Texas populations occur on desert springs within the same general Pecos Plain region in west Texas. Two ?opulations occur along the Rio San Jose and one on the Rio Grande in west-central New Mexico, comprising a second distinct region. Finally, there are two distinct populations on the Pecos River in eastern New Mexico, each constituting its own region. Thus, a total of four highly disjunct regional areas contain the entire genomic and ecotypical characteristics of Pecos sunflower.

The recovery strategy is to protect and manage a significant, sustainable portion of each of the four regions? Pecos sunflower habitats (termed ?core conservation areas?) against the threat of future habitat loss and degradation, and as needed, from any other threats to the sunflower.

Pecos Sunflower image

Land uses within these protected areas would be prescribed by management plans or voluntary deed restrictions that are sensitive to the species.


Devils River Minnow Recovery Plan

The final Recovery Plan for the threatened Devils River minnow (Dionda diaboli) has been approved by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife. The Recovery Plan identifies specific, voluntary actions that will help recover the fish so it may eventually be removed from the list of threatened and endangered species. Objectives and criteria for delisting the species are spelled out. In addition, the fish?s status and current management practices are described.

A Fact Sheet and a document providing Answers to common Questions about the Devils River Minnow Recovery Plan are also available. Devils River Minnow Vignette


In a letter hand-delivered to Governor Rick Perry, officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) officially notified Texas that the federal government will recognize that new, optional water quality measures serve to protect certain federally listed endangered species, if voluntarily implemented in developments over the Edwards Aquifer. ?After over a decade of wrestling with both state and federal regulations, the state and federal governments have come together on one set of requirements to serve two environmental goals.?

To view a copy of the letter and for more information on the optional water quality standards and the Edwards Aquifer Rules, please visit www.tceq.state.tx.us
Fish and Wildlife Service and TCEQ Joint Logo image



Critical Habitat for
Bexar County, Texas Karst-dwelling Invertebrates

The eyeless Madla Cave meshweaver (a type of spider) is one of nine endangered invertebrates who has become adapted to an underground life in the caves underlying Bexar County. The photograph was taken through a magnifying lens to better show the 1/4" long meshweaver. Madla Cave meshweaver

Photo by Jean Krejca
U.S. Fish and Wilidlife Service

beetle Rhadine exilis Rhadine exilis is a small, eyeless ground beetle that lives with eight other endangered invertebrates in the caves and fractured bedrock below Bexar County. Their habitat is very susceptible to contamination. Some pollutants that sink into the ground move through the bedrock areas before entering the aquifer.
Photo by Jean Krejca
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

News release announcing Critical Habitat Proposal Critical Habitat Maps

Caution - some of the pdf documents below are very large. For best results, right-mouse click and choose "Save Target As." Save the file to your local drive and open after downloading is complete.


USFWS Section 10(a)(1)(A) Scientific Permit Requirements for Conducting Presence/Absence Surveys for Endangered Golden-cheeked Warblers

This document identifies survey methods to be used for conducting presence/absence surveys for golden-cheeked warblers (Dendroica chrysoparia, GCWA) under a section 10(a)(1)(A) scientific research and recovery permit. Also included are GCWA habitat descriptions from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Management Guidelines for GCWAs (Campbell 2003). These descriptions include all habitats that the USFWS considers to be potential GCWA habitat, and as such, areas meeting these descriptions should be surveyed in accordance with the following protocol.


Golden-cheeked warbler (GCWA) and black-capped vireo (BCVI) reporting for 10(a)(1)(A) Scientific Research and Recovery Permits

In an effort to standardize data collection and track data more efficiently, we've drafted the following reporting documents for all GCWA and BCVI sightings. This should simplify the transfer of this data into a GIS. Each attached Excel spreadsheet has an associated Word file with detailed explanations on what each column in the spreadsheet should contain. We would appreciate receiving this information upon completion of the survey (for example, after the 3rd survey, if only 3 are conducted on the property), rather than at the end of the year. Annual reports can refer to these documents for most of the reporting requirements, but should include a synopsis of surveys conducted (including site location map) and detailed descriptions of habitat found on each site. If the files are small enough, you may email them to Christina Williams (lead for GCWA) or Omar Bocanegra (lead for BCVI), otherwise you may submit them on cd.

Christina and Omar can be emailed at christina_williams@fws.gov and omar_bocanegra@fws.gov, respectively. CDs can be mailed to Christina Williams at the Austin, Texas Ecological Services: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, Texas 78758. Omar Bocanegra can be sent mail at the Arlington, Texas Ecological Services office: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 711 Stadium Drive East, Ste 252, Arlington, Texas 76011.

The following documents include those items specifically required by your permit to be submitted as part of your annual report:

The following documents refer to data that some people collect and report, but are not required by the permit. If you do collect this information, we would like it reported in accordance with the following format:


Geographic Information System (GIS) Shapefiles for Karst Zones are available for download. Click below and 'Save Target As' to download the desired zip-compressed shapefiles.

Travis/Williamson Counties Karst Zones
Bexar County Karst Zones (Revised)

Last updated: November 10, 2010