Round Rock City Council joined the chorus of Williamson County governing bodies voicing opposition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposed listing of four local salamander species on the federal endangered species list.
The council voted unanimously Aug. 24 to pass a resolution opposing the listing, saying the move by the federal government could have a detrimental effect on local development.
“Listing the salamanders under the [Endangered Species Act] will result in additional federal regulatory compliance requirements for development projects with the City of Round Rock, increasing the cost of development,” the council’s resolution said. “Increasing the cost of development will reduce the number of homes built and increase the cost to own a home, decreasing the city’s tax base, jeopardizing the city’s ability to attract jobs and investments, and generally hinder economic growth.”
The Williamson County Commissioners Court, Leander City Council, Cedar Park City Council, Leander ISD and Georgetown ISD have passed similar resolutions opposing the salamander listings since USFWS’s Aug. 21 announcement.
Prior to voting on the resolution, the City Council heard testimony from members of the Williamson County Conservation Foundation, which is in the second year of a five-year study on the impacts of local development on salamander habitats.
“We are asking for more time before the salamanders are listed,” said Lisa Birkman, Williamson County commissioner and WCCF board member. “I think it’s too early to have this salamander listed. We think this needs to be based on science.”
The USFWS is conducting a 60-day public input review of the proposed listing. A final decision is expect to come in June 2013, WCCF researcher Kimble White said.
A public hearing for input from Williamson County residents is scheduled for Sept. 5 at Wingate by Wyndham, 1209 N. I-35, Round Rock. An informational meeting is planned for 5:30–6:30 p.m., followed by a public input session from 7–8:30 p.m.
For more information, visit www.fws.gov/endangered.
Information and research done by the county is available at www.wilco.org/salamanders.