For Immediate Release, June 3, 2019

Contact:

Elise Bennett, (727) 755-6950, ebennett@biologicaldiversity.org

Lawsuit Seeks Federal Habitat Protection for Two Central Texas Salamanders

Urban Sprawl Threatens Georgetown, Salado Salamanders’ Springs

AUSTIN, Texas— The Center for Biological Diversity today sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to designate critical habitat in central Texas for the Georgetown salamander and Salado salamander.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia, notes that Endangered Species Act habitat safeguards are more than five years overdue. The agency’s delay follows a pattern of missed statutory deadlines for these species’ protection.

“Pollution and sprawl are destroying the springs these salamanders need to survive, so federal officials have to safeguard their habitat before it’s too late,” said Elise Bennett, a Center attorney dedicated to protecting imperiled reptiles and amphibians. “If the Fish and Wildlife Service keeps missing protection deadlines, Texas could lose these two species forever.”

Both salamanders have brownish bodies and feathery red gills crowning their heads. The Georgetown salamander has large eyes with golden irises, and the Salado salamander has a pronounced fin along its tail.

Gills allow these salamanders to live their entire lives underwater in springs, spring runs, wet caves and groundwater around the northern part of the Edwards Aquifer in central Texas.

The salamanders are threatened by activities that disturb their surface springs, pollute their water or reduce flow to their underground aquatic habitats.

“The salamanders’ struggle is a warning that we’re destroying the clean springs we all need to live full, healthy lives,” said Bennett. “Protecting clean water helps the salamanders and people.”

The two species languished for more than a decade before receiving protection as “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act in 2014.

The Trump administration has failed to protect many imperiled plants and animals despite a backlog of hundreds of species awaiting protections.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.