The future of the Texas Hill Country’s most iconic bird, the Golden-cheeked Warbler, is currently being assessed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Before the holidays, SOS, Travis Audubon, Bexar Audubon, Lone Star Sierra Club, Earthjustice, and other Texas groups sent a letter urging Fish and Wildlife to resist a push by the Texas General Land Office and private anti-environment groups to remove the Warbler from the federal endangered species list.
Since the Warbler’s entire nesting range traces much of the Texas Hill Country and the Edwards Aquifer watershed, the best science and common sense tell us that the Warbler and the Hill Country as we know it are more endangered than ever. Westward sprawl from the I-35 urban corridor and the resulting habitat loss and land fragmentation is expanding. Increased pumping of surface and groundwater reduces spring and stream flows critical to birds, other wildlife, and people. A rapidly changing climate adds a major threat of increasing habitat loss from droughts and fire, both in the Hill Country and in the Warbler’s wintering grounds in southern Mexico and Central America.
Yet the Texas GLO and its “develop everywhere” allies point to deeply flawed studies that overestimate the warbler’s population size. The science that Fish and Wildlife must consider, and that was set out in our joint letter, is clear that the Golden-cheeked Warbler should remain on the federal list of species at risk of near-term extinction. SOS along with its partners at Earthjustice are working hard on multiple fronts to ensure that the Golden-cheeked Warbler stays protected. We are also working with a long list of Texas organizations pushing for more local and state funding for permanent land protection – funding that would match private land protection efforts and federal funds in support of the national and international 30 x 30 movement to protect 30 percent of the Earth’s lands by 2030.
Stay tuned and thank you for your generous support for this work.