Georgetown passes ordinance to keep salamander off endangered list

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by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE NEWS and Photojournalist ERIN COKER

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kvue.com

Posted on December 20, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 20 at 7:50 PM

GEORGETOWN, Texas -- The Georgetown salamander is threatening future development in Williamson County. Friday night, city council approved an ordinance they said could keep it off the endangered species list.

At the beginning of 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service will decide if the salamander should be added to the endangered species list.

"They're considering the listing of it as endangered or threatened," said Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey.

Covey said she hopes U.S. Fish and Wildlife will consider a different route.

"The other option they have is to take it off the candidate list. That's why we've been working so diligently to put together a conservation plan to achieve that goal," Covey said.

The ordinance aims to protect the salamander's home by limiting development near the springs.

A map the county made shows 18 spots where the salamander lives, within the limits of the city and up to three and a half miles beyond the city limits.

"Not only the salamander issues, but clean water, as well as responsible development," Covey said.

Covey said the plan centers around preserving water quality, which, in turn, will help the salamanders survive.

"We know our area, and we care about clean water more than anyone, because we live here," she said.

The ordinance would prohibit any development 87 yards from the springs and allow only limited development within 874 yards. Covey said if the salamander ends up on the endangered list, even more land could be restricted.

"This issue would be better addressed at home at the local level," she said.

In August, Fish and Wildlife allowed for a six month extension on the ruling. That means a decision will be made in February.

"We are under a tight time frame," Covey said..

The coalition that made the plan consisted of city officials, developers, land owners, scientists and engineers.
 

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