Highways and Endangered Species in Austin

Barton Springs Salamander

After facing the threat of a lawsuit from the Save Our Springs Alliance and the Center for Biological Diversity, the Texas Department of Transportation appears to be changing course on a major highway project here in Austin. The two environmental organizations have long been expressing concern over the impact of a MoPac expansion on the endangered Barton Springs salamander, Austin blind salamander, and golden-cheeked warbler.

Previously, TxDOT had said that the highway project would have “no effect” on the three species. However, this week, they announced that the project is “not likely to adversely” affect the species. This change prompted TxDOT to initiate a consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

“I am happy to see Texas transportation officials taking a positive step in the right direction,” said Kelly Davis, an attorney with Save Our Springs Alliance, in a press release. “I hope that they will also begin to take seriously the environmentally damaging impacts of the many other highway projects planned in the sensitive Barton Springs Recharge Zone and work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that they will not impact endangered species.” More info>>

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