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Energy & Environment

$29 Million: The Cost of Protecting Central Texas Salamanders

City of Austin by Mark Sanders

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it would cost $29 million over the next 23 years to designate critical habitat land for four central Texas salamanders.

The service wants to list the Austin blind salamander and three other species as endangered. It also wants to designate more than 6,457 acres of land in Travis, Williamson and Bell counties to help protect them. That acreage is up from 5,983 acres in a previous proposal.The service says the $29 million price tag is largely due to administrative costs but takes into consideration the economic impact on development and other projects.

A critical habitat designation is different from establishing a refuge or preserve. Private landowners wouldn't be limited on what they can do with their land except for actions that require federal funding or permits.

According to the service, the habitats of the Austin blind salamander, Jollyville Plateau salamander, Georgetown salamander and Salado salamander are being threatened because of reduced water quality and increasing urbanization. All four salamander species depend on water from the Edwards Aquifer.

The economic analysis released today is just a draft. The public will be invited to review it and make comments until March 11.

How to submit a comment:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Submit comments on the listing proposal to Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2012–0035, and submit comments on the critical habitat proposal and associated draft economic analysis to Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2013–0001.
  • U.S. mail or hand delivery:
Public Comments Processing Attn: FWS–R2–ES–2012–0035 (for listing proposal) or Attn: FWS–R2–ES–2013–0001 (for critical habitat proposal & draft economic analysis) Division of Policy and Directives Management U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM Arlington, VA 22203.

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