The Stakeholders of Bell County recently met the September 19th deadline established by USFWS for comments related to the six month extension before they make their final decision on the Salado Salamander. The official comments were prepared by Mike Gershon, and focused on responding to USFWS’s solicitation of additional data regarding the Salado Salamander proposed listing pursuant of the Endangered Species Act. The solicitation for comments specified three key issues and associated categories of information in the Federal Register notice published on August 20, 2013.
The comments where provided on behalf of the five Bell County-area stakeholders: Bell County, Village of Salado, Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District, Salado Water Supply Corporation, and Jarrell-Schwertner Water Supply Corporation. We realize other groups and individuals provided additional funding for the research and appreciate their support of our efforts but did not have authority to list each on this document without their prior approval.
Mike Gershon completed the final assembling of all the documents and prepared our comments which can be viewed here. Mr. Gershon did an incredible job and we appreciate his efforts, and professionalism. He assembled our information from the ongoing hydrogeological studies by our consultants at Baylor University coupled with new data developed and available on recent spring flows and Edwards BFZ groundwater pumping within Clearwater UWCD’s jurisdiction. The other new data includes our Texas A&M University consultant, Dr. Toby Hibbits final report concerning species surveys undertaken between September 20 and November 30, 2012.
Based on these studies conducted to date, we submitted these comments maintaining our position that the evidence does not indicate that the Salado Salamander should be listed and that designation of critical habitat is not necessary. The comments urge USFWS to recognize that our continued ongoing research and collection of data, allows for a better understanding of the Salado Salamander’s life cycle and habitat needs, as well as the Edwards BFZ Aquifer resource upon which the salamander and local communities depend.
The six documents submitted can be viewed and downloaded at our website here.
I want to again commend Mr. Gershon, Lloyd Gosselink Attorney at Law, and our consultants at Texas A&M University and Baylor University for doing a tremendous job on behalf of the stakeholders of Bell County.