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TxDOT to consult with Fish and Wildlife Service

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 by Jo Clifton

The Texas Department of Transportation has withdrawn its finding that the construction of the MoPac intersections project across the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer recharge zone would have no harmful impact on three federally protected species. The Center for Biological Diversity and the Save Our Springs Alliance announced Tuesday that they had received a letter from TxDOT stating that the agency has begun consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on possible impacts the road might have on the Barton Springs salamander, the Austin blind salamander and the golden-cheeked warbler. TxDOT “initially conducted an inadequate, cursory environmental review of the project and did not consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure it would not jeopardize the survival of the endangered species, in violation of the Endangered Species Act,” according to a statement from the two environmental organizations. The Center for Biological Diversity and the SOS Alliance notified TxDOT that they intended to file suit because the highway department had failed to consult with the federal agency. Kelly Davis, an attorney with the SOS Alliance, told the Austin Monitor, “I think it’s a good thing that they’re moving in that direction,” noting that in some other instances, highway departments have “doubled down” when facing a lawsuit.

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