On Thursday, October 29, members of the Bell County Adaptive Management Coalition held a press conference at 2:00 p.m. to share proposed comments on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (FWS) proposed critical habitat designation for both the Georgetown and Salado salamanders.
On September 15, the FWS announced that it was proposing a critical habitat designation for the Georgetown and Salado salamanders. In total, the proposed habitat would comprise more than 1,500 acres of Central Texas land in Bell and Williamson Counties. The proposal allows for the filing of public comments until November 16.
The Bell County Adaptive Management Coalition is comprised of officials from Bell County, the Village of Salado, the Salado Water Supply Corporation, and the Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District.
Since 2012, the Bell County Adaptive Management Coalition (BCAMC) has expended various resources on this topic, with the overall goal of increasing scientific knowledge of the Salado salamander, and adding to its conservation. The combined effects of the Coalition’s efforts have protected the Salado salamander and its habitat, rendering a critical habitat designation simply unnecessary and not prudent. Handouts distributed during the yesterday’s press conference can be found by going to: BCAMC News Encouraging Citizen Participation
Coalition members and others are encouraging local businesses, landowners and well owners in the both the Village of Salado and the rural areas of Bell County. The importance of local participation with comments is so very crucial according to the Coalitions. Their goals state that the need for critical habitat designation is simply not prudent nor scientifically defendable under the statutory authority of US Fish and Wildlife Services who is proposing the designation rules.
Most importantly the Coalition encourages local citizens to be engaged by submitting comments prior to the formal deadline of November 16th. Coalition members are willing to assist those who wish to submit. Instructions and supporting documents for submitting comments are also available at the following links:
- Business, Landowner & Well Owner Guidance Document
- BCAMC Critical Habitat Fact Sheet
- Edwards BFZ Aquifer Range Map in Bell County
- BCAMC Media Handout
- BCAMC Media Briefing
BCAMC Foundational Beliefs supported by Legal & Scientific Understanding:
- Foundational science used in support of the designations is not consistent with available literature, and should not be used as the basis for designating critical habitat;
- Water quality degradation should not be a factor considered for this designation because the Coalition continues to implement and manage research efforts and regulations that have improved water quality to stable conditions;
- Water quantity degradation should not be a factor considered for this designation because the Coalition continues to implement research, regulations, and ordinances that maintain sufficient water quantity for the Salado Salamander;
- Public identification of sites could increase impacts to the species and its habitat (i.e. site disturbance, species harassment, etc.);
- The associated Economic Analysis was not inclusive for all anticipated impacts in Bell County; and,
- Salado salamander sites located on Solana Ranch, a conservation easement in Bell County monitored by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), should not be included in this designation because of the existing, successful management by TNC.