USFWS reopens comment period for Georgetown salamander listings

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The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced it would reopen the public comment period regarding the possible endangered listing for the Georgetown and Salado salamanders Jan. 7.

USFWS will collect input from concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry and other interested partiesuntil 11:59 p.m. EST (10:59 p.m. CST) Jan. 22,according to a news release.

The service would like to consider the ordinances as part of our final listing determination, according to the release, in reference to an ordinance and water quality management plan approved by Georgetown City Council on Dec. 20 to protect salamander habitats andto avoid having the Georgetown salamander listed as endangered by USFWS.

[W]e are reopening the comment period to allow the public the opportunity to provide comments on the likelihood of the implementation and the effectiveness of the ordinances, the release read.

This will be the fourth public comment period regarding the listing of Central Texasarea salamander species, according to information on www.fws.gov/southwest.

We encourage the public to look at the ordinances and provide us any comments they may have so we can look at that and consider it as we move forward, USFWS Public Affairs SpecialistLesli Gray said.

Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey, who serves as president of the Williamson County Conservation Foundation, helped draft the comprehensive conservation plan, of which the ordinance and water quality management plan are just two parts of. She said she is pleased that USFWSis reopening the comment period.

In the next couple months, we will know where we stand with the Georgetown salamander, Covey said. Weve been working really hard. This would be the next step in that process, and Im really glad theyve determined [our comprehensive conservation plan is]adequate enough to open it and re-evaluate it.

If the salamander is placed on the endangered species list, it could limit development and hinder the local economy, Covey said in past salamander discussions.

The service must make a determination on listingthe Georgetown salamander as endangered by Feb. 22. Public comments may be submitted here. Information regarding the proposed listing and instructions for commenting may be viewed on the USFWS website here, under “Fourth Comment Period.”

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