For Immediate Release, May 22, 2014
Contact: Stephanie Feldstein, (734) 395-0770
Texas Growth Spurt Threatens Endangered Salamanders
AUSTIN, Texas— U.S. Census Bureau data released today shows that three out of the five fastest-growing cities in the United States are within 30 miles of Austin, Texas, an area that is home to two federally protected salamanders, the Jollyville Plateau salamander and the Austin blind salamander. The continuing trend of population growth and urban sprawl in the region raises concern for the future of the rare salamanders.
“As human population growth continues to explode in central Texas, urban planners will have to pay attention to more than just meeting human needs,” said Stephanie Feldstein, the Center for Biological Diversity’s population and sustainability director. “There are amazing species around Austin that can’t be found anywhere else in the world, and it’ll become increasingly difficult to keep them protected without smart planning and an eye toward protecting the natural world.”
According to Census figures released today, San Marcos, Frisco and Cedar Park, Texas were among the five fastest growing cities, with their populations increasing from 2012 to 2013 by 8 percent, 6.5 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively. The city of Austin also gained nearly 21,000 people, growing faster than any city with fewer than 1 million residents.
The fully aquatic salamanders live in springs in Travis and Williamson counties in central Texas. They require clean, well-oxygenated water and are threatened by activities that pollute or reduce water flow to their aquatic habitats.
Last year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided Endangered Species Act protection for the Jollyville Plateau salamander and the Austin blind salamander, along with 4,400 acres of protected critical habitat. The decision was spurred by a landmark settlement between the Center for Biological Diversity and the agency in 2011 that is expediting federal protection decisions for 757 imperiled species across the country.
Austin can take steps to reduce the impact of population growth by continuing to support land-use and smart-growth policies that protect habitat and water resources.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.