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Salado: Salamanders Crawl Into Spotlight

By: Brittany Semadeni Email
By: Brittany Semadeni Email
A public meeting Wednesday will be held to discuss a variety of issues relating to the Salado Salamander.

Courtesy Nate Bendik

SALADO (December 11, 2012)--A public meeting Wednesday will be held to discuss a variety of issues relating to the Salado Salamander.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a proposed rule to list the Salado Salamander and three other salamanders as endangered and to designate 372 acres as a critical habitat for the species.

The USFWS has one year to make a final decision on the proposed rule that was introduced in August.

According to USFWS, “The most significant threat to these four species is degradation of their aquatic habitat in the form of reduced water quality, resulting from increasing urbanization in the area.”

However, the Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District and Bell County Commissioners Court are in disagreement with the rule citing flawed conclusions.

The Clearwater UGWD submitted comments to USFWS explaining that existing regulatory mechanisms in the geographical region of Bell County ensures continuous springflows and thereby protects water quantity and water quality.

They say their comments further provided additional information regarding groundwater availability and groundwater pumping from the Edward BFZ.

Research has been underway to expand the groups' understanding of the groundwater system and the ecological niche occupied by the Salado Salamander.

Texas A&M University Researcher and Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles Dr. Toby Hibbitts and Baylor University geology and hydrogeology professor Dr. Yelderman have begun the projects and plan to present their findings at Wednesday’s meeting.

Hibbitts work has been to better understand the distribution of the salamanders while Yelderman’s work includes conducting dye tracer studies to determine flow velocities and potential flow paths for Big Boiling and other downtown springs.

Organizers of the meeting hope the research will help them make informed decisions in the event that the Salado Salamander might be listed, to avoid listing through a voluntary Candidate Conservation Agreement and to actively support the efforts of Williamson County to prevent its listing.

The meeting will be held at the Stage Coach Inn Conference Center at 6 p.m.


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