In The News
US Fish and Wildlife Service proposes new rules regarding critical habitat units for the Georgetown and Salado salamanders.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services has proposed new rules related to the Georgetown and Salado salamanders. The proposal has been published in the Federal Register with comments due by November 16, 2020. View the proposed rule and information on posting comments.
The Williamson County Conservation Foundation (WCCF) team is reviewing the proposal and will submit comments.
Local information about this may be obtained by emailing the WCCF.
The Future is Ours to Pass Along...
The Williamson County Conservation Foundation (WCCF) was established in December 2002 to provide for conservation of endangered species in Williamson County while helping to promote responsible development.
Williamson County is one of the fastest growing counties in the country. Rapid growth necessitates a regional approach to balancing development needs with the needs for conservation.
At the Park with Mark: Conservation!
Did you know that Williamson County is home to many interesting and rare animals, insects and land features? Well, it is! In this episode of "At the Park with Mark", Preserve Steward Mark explores caves in the county, discusses conversation programs, and informs us on how Williamson County actively works to protect everyone and everything that calls Williamson County home!
Learning about Salamanders
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued its final listing rule on the Georgetown and Salado salamanders on February 22, 2014, placing both species in the "threatened" category. In addition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a proposed 4(d) Special Rule. Section 4(d) of the ESA allows the USFWS to establish special regulations for threatened (not endangered) species, subspecies, and Distinct Population Segments. These "4(d) rules" take the place of the normal protections of the Endangered Species Act and may either increase or decrease the ESA's normal protections. The ESA specifies that 4(d) rules must be "necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of such species."
The proposed 4(d) rule is expected to follow exactly (or very closely) the City of Georgetown water quality ordinance approved by the City on December 20, 2013. For information on how to follow the ordinance guidelines call the City of Georgetown City Code and Development Department or contact the WCCF.
WCCF has established several important cave preserves. Four have been recognized as Karst Fauna Areas under the Williamson County Habitat Conservation Plan.
- Twin Spring Preserve - karst invertebrates, Golden cheeked warbler and Georgetown salamander
- Cobb's Cavern Preserve - karst invertebrates
- Priscilla's Well Preserve - karst invertebrates
- Karankawa Preserve - karst invertebrates
Two preserves form natural areas within Williamson County's Southwest Regional Park - Millenium Preserve and Wilco Preserve. Two preserves in the southern part of the county provide additional karst habitat - Beck Preserve and Chaos Cave Preserve. Also the WCCF manages several smaller preserve areas in various parts of the county. Most provide habitat for karst invertebrates.
To inquire about Williamson County's site-specific Leave No Trace training for preserve areas please send an email to WCCF. Now only the Twin Springs Preserve is available for public access but plans are to provide access to the greatest extent possible using a "Leave No Trace for Williamson County Preserves" training.
How to Get Involved
Long-term management of the Regional Habitat Conservation Plan provides numerous opportunities for public involvement, and the WCCF Board encourages the public to become actively involved in this process. Through public involvement, WCCF has created and manages a plan that works for the people of Williamson County. The WCCF board meets on the fourth Wednesday of alternative months at 9 am at:
Williamson County Parks Office
219 Perry Mayfield
Leander, TX 78641
or at other sites to be determined (TBD). If an alternative site is used, notice of the meeting and directions will appear here.
Recreation & Learning Opportunities
Twin Springs Preserve has marked pathways encompassing approximately 3.5 miles of natural trails through the county's Twin Springs Preserve which is managed by the Williamson County Conservation Foundation. The preserve may be reached from the Russell Park trail-head for the Goodwater Trail, approximately 3.25 miles from the Russell Park trail-head to the Twin Springs loop.
Also, the WCCF recently added a small (about six cars) parking area off of County Road 262. A kiosk with preserve information leads to the pathway loop.
The Twin Springs Preserve provides habitat for endangered and threatened species. Access is by permit only. Permits are free but must be obtained by attending an approved training session, "Leave No Trace Principles for Williamson County Preserves." Information on training sessions may be obtained by calling 512-943-1921 or by sending an email to WCCF.