Salamanders

An environmental advocacy group has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, claiming federal officials are failing to protect threatened species of salamanders in Central Texas.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Environmental groups have announced their intention to sue the Texas Department of Transportation over how it has managed construction of its MoPac Intersections highway expansion project in Southwest Austin.

Tom Devitt

A team of biologists announced this week they’d found three new species of rare salamanders in Central Texas. The discovery of any new species is big news for science, but in Texas – where the fate of salamanders and people are often linked – it could also set up a new fight over endangered species protections.  

I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News

Swimmers and salamanders can continue their peaceful coexistence at Barton Springs Pool.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is granting the City of Austin a new 20-year permit, keeping the pool open to the public while protecting the habitats of both the Barton Springs Salamander and the Austin Blind Salamander.

Dr. David Hills

Meet two of the newest creatures to receive federal Endangered Species Act protection: the Austin Blind Salamander and the Jollyville Plateau Salamander.

The Austin Blind Salamander – sightless, due to living deep in the Edwards Aquifer that feeds Barton Springs – was listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Jollyville Plateau Salamander, native to streams and karst formations in Travis and Williamson Counties, was listed as threatened this week.

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.

goat karma http://www.flickr.com/photos/goatkarma/ / Erik Reyna, KUT News / City of Austin by Mark Sanders

A high of 93 under partly cloudy skies is forecast for Austin today but it will feel more like 98 degrees with the humidity. Here are your top morning stories.

Lance Armstrong To Be Stripped of Titles?

Austin cycling legend Lance Armstrong is about to have his Tour de France victories “obliterated” from the record books, World Anti-Doping Agency boss John Fahey tells the BBC. As we posted last night, Armstrong said he was giving up his court battle with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) over allegations he used performance-enhancing drugs since 1996.

Shortly thereafter, the USADA chief said that means Armstrong will be stripped of his titles. Armstrong says USADA doesn’t have the authority to do that, but NPR’s Mike Pesca reports this morning that it does. "Greg LeMond is [now] the only American" to have officially won the world's most prestigious bicycle race, Pesca told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep.