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Endangered Species of San Marcos

todayFebruary 2, 2016 40

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Carlos Marquez
Senior News Reporter

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Photo by Carlos Marquez.

There are seven endangered species that inhabit the Edwards Aquifer as well as a species that is threatened. The Texas Blind Salamander, Texas Wild Rice and the Comal Springs Riffle Beetle are all among the endangered species. The San Marcos Salamander however, is the lone threatened species in the Edwards Aquifer system.

Two organizations that work to preserve endangered species in the San Marcos area and surrounding areas are the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan and the Meadows Center for water and the environment at Texas State.

The Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan is intended to provide assurance that suitable habitat for covered species will remain in both the San Marcos and Comal Springs, despite lawful water use activities within the Edwards Aquifer region. The Edwards Aquifer Website reports that the main problems for all the species are reduced spring flows caused by increased pumping, elimination of habitat and degradation of water quality which is caused by urban expansion.

The Meadows Center website reports that our future depends on water and they are determined to complete their mission to find solutions to real-world challenges through research, stewardship, education and service. The Meadows Center Chief Science Officer, Thomas Hardy says the Meadows Center does many things to help preserve endangered species.

“Texas State as well as the city of San Marcos are signatories to the EA Habitat Conservation Plan,” Hardy said. “That says we will do these protective measures, like say scientific areas, Spring Lake and other measures to ensure that we as a city and as a university are doing our part to protect the species. The biggest thing that we do is treat Spring Lake as an environmental preserve where we restrict access to certain permitted activities that have been documented and demonstrated to not cause environmental harm to that species. We have volunteer divers that remove non-native vegetation in the vicinity of the spring orifices and their habitat as a way of protecting their habitat.”

Hardy says that the species in such a populated face a lot of risks. He further explained what risks these species face and what we can do to help conserve endangered species.

“Well the biggest thing is frankly, limited distribution,” Hardy said. “I mean these are the only places in the world that they’re found. If something happens at a particular location, it’s difficult to start over again because they’re not in every river or in every spring. The other thing that puts them at risk is potentially over-utilization of the river and by that, like in New Braunfels, in the Comal is maybe there’s too many people on the river all at once that are disturbing the habitat continuously all summer long, that could be putting species at risk.”

Hardy further explained that the city’s in the Edwards Aquifer region must find a balance between river utilization and habitat conservation to refrain from harming the species. Hardy says that people need to realize that if it weren’t for the endangered species, the San Marcos and Comal rivers would be dry.

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