The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service formally proposed the Jollyville Plateau salamander, Austin blind salamander, Georgetown salamander, and Salado salamander as endangered species. The proposed listing opens a 60-day comment period and triggers a 12 month deadline for making a final listing decision. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires that decisions to list species as "threatened" or "endangered" be made solely on the best available commercial and scientific information.
The SOS Alliance filed a fully documented, science-based petition to list the Jollyville Plateau salamander as endangered in June 2005. Had the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service followed Endangered Species Act listing deadlines, the species would have been listed endangered by the end of 2007. Although slow in coming, the proposed listings recognize that these Edwards aquifer and spring dwelling species are at grave risk of near-term extinction as a result of increasing pollution and groundwater pumping from development in Travis, Williamson, and Bell counties.
The Austin blind salamander is found only at Barton Springs. The other three species are found in springs flowing from the northern Edwards Aquifer, located north of the Colorado River. Development and groundwater pumping in Williamson County is virtually unregulated.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's proposed listing rule, and the basis for the proposed listings, is available HERE.
SOS Alliance will be supplementing the scientific record with updated information on the proliferation of unregulated groundwater pumping and minimally-regulated land development across the range of these salamander species.
Protecting the northern Edwards Aquifer habitats of these species will protect the water for human use and enjoyment as well. As we like to say, "may salamanders forever swim in your water supply."