Central Texas County Disputes Estimated Cost Of Saving Salamanders

GEORGETOWN (March 6, 2013)--Consultants for Williamson County say the economic impact of listing four salamander species as endangered could top half a billion dollars, not the $29 million projected by the U.S. government.

Consultants for the Williamson County Conservation Foundation dispute the federal figures.

Consultant Mike Weaver cites discrepancies over how fast the Austin-area county will grow and potential lost tax revenue.

The county responded to a January report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which estimated a $29 million economic impact cost over 23 years to protect salamander habitats in Williamson, Travis and Bell counties.

A federal decision is expected this summer on listing the Austin blind salamander, the Jollyville Plateau salamander, the Georgetown salamander and the Salado salamander as endangered.