By Mike Parker
Two local species of salamanders are now listed in the Endangered Species Act under a final ruling released Tuesday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In the long-awaited ruling, the service is listing the Austin salamander species as endangered and the Jollyville salamander as threatened, putting both under federal protection. In another ruling, the service is allowing an extra six-month comment period on listing the Georgetown and Salado salamander species as endangered.
The ruling pertains to small, aquatic creatures that live in springs throughout Williamson County and northwest Travis County. The species grow to be as long as two inches and never leave the water.
The listings stem from a petition filed in 2004 by the Center for Biological Diversity to list 225 species as endangered. The Austin-based Save Our Springs Alliance followed with a petition in 2005 to specifically list the Jollyville salamander as endangered.
Collette Adkins Giese, a lawyer representing CBD, said the listings are critical in saving the two salamander species that live nowhere else in the world.
“Endangered Species Act protection for the salamanders also protects the springs that give drinking water and recreation to Texas communities,” she said in a media release. “These Texas salamanders cannot survive in waterways polluted with pesticides, industrial chemicals and other toxins so they are excellent indicators of the health of the environment.” More....