Hours before the deadline, Williamson County employees submitted about $365,000 worth of studies to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service arguing that four Central Texas salamanders should not be added to the endangered species list.
Monday was the final day in a 60-day public comment period, and officials said part of the delay was a push for feedback in the peer review process, which shows other experts have read and reviewed the data.
The county’s 218 pages of comments argue that:
• More than 70 percent of the known locations for the salamanders are already in protected areas.
• Existing water quality protection measures already keep water clean.
• Fish and Wildlife’s argument that development and declining salamander numbers are connected is not supported by independent observation and statistical analysis.
The comments were submitted on behalf of the county by SWCA Environmental Consultants, which was hired by the county’s conservation foundation and paid for with money collected from development fees.