Controversy over a 4-inch-long amphibian came to an end Friday as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made its final decision to list the Salado salamander as “threatened” and not “endangered.”
“This is a huge win for (the Bell County Coalition). We still have a lot of work to do, but it will be so much easier without the endangered designation hanging over us,” said Tim Brown, a Bell County commissioner.
“Agency staffers have indicated that they have been impressed by our science-based approach to confronting this issue. We made some compelling arguments that the species should not be listed, but those arguments were based on clearly demonstrable facts.”
Texas Parks and Wildlife introduced the potential listing of the Salado salamander on the endangered species list about two years ago. The amphibian was listed as threatened because of degradation of its habitat and changes in water flow and quality, according to a news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The listing would have altered the future of Salado, a Bell County village that gets all its water from groundwater.
Last year, some Bell County residents complained listing the amphibian as endangered would drive up the costs or prevent access for thousands of homes to fresh water.
Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District is a governmental agency responsible for managing all the groundwater in Bell County.
Dirk Aaron, general manager of the district, said listing the species as threatened, instead of endangered, is a good thing since it will require Clearwater to be “mindful” of protecting the species.