Imperiled critters to get protection

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Imperiled critters to get protection

Postby Wayne Harrison » Jul 18, 2006 7:57 am

Imperiled critters to get protection

Web Posted: 07/18/2006 01:48 AM CDT
Anton Caputo
San Antonio Express-News

Almost three years after a conservation group sued to force the federal government's hand, it has agreed to name more than 100 acres of springs in Comal and Hays counties critical habitat for two species of beetles and a shrimp-like crustacean.

What effect the designation would have on landowners and development in the affected areas, which include the San Marcos and New Braunfels areas, is unclear. Federal officials say it's likely to be minimal, but they will follow with a two-month public comment period and economic analysis.

"We're pleased that the protection efforts have advanced to this next step," said Peter Galvin of the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, the group that sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2003.

The critters in question — the Peck's cave amphipod, the Comal Springs riffle beetle and the Comal Springs dryopid beetle — are all one-eighth of an inch long or smaller and found only in a handful of spots in Central Texas.

"They are only at these four spring sites," said Allen White, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist.

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Wayne Harrison
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