For Immediate Release, February 26, 2020

Contact:

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

Legal Victory Secures Habitat Protection for Two Central Texas Salamanders

Urban Sprawl Threatens Georgetown, Salado Salamanders’ Freshwater Habitat

AUSTIN, Texas— The Center for Biological Diversity today won a legal victory requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate protected critical habitat in central Texas for the Georgetown and Salado salamanders by Aug. 12, 2021.

Habitat loss and degradation from urban sprawl are pushing these species toward extinction.

“This is a big victory for these secretive salamanders, who wouldn’t stand a chance without protections for their fragile habitat,” said Elise Bennett, a Center attorney dedicated to protecting imperiled reptiles and amphibians. “Safeguarding groundwater and springs, along with reining in water pollution and overconsumption, will help put these rare creatures on the road to recovery.”

Today’s legal agreement follows the Center’s 2019 lawsuit challenging the agency’s failure to designate critical habitat for the species. The habitat protections are more than five years overdue.

The Georgetown and Salado salamanders are fully aquatic and require clean, well-oxygenated water. Gills allow these salamanders to live their entire lives underwater in the interconnected crevices and passages in springs, spring runs, wet caves and groundwater around the northern part of the Edwards Aquifer in central Texas.

“Protecting springs and groundwater is just common sense,” said Bennett. “We need clean water to survive, and so do multitudes of other creatures we share the planet with.”

The 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.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.