Southern Edwards Habitat Conservation Plan - how does it impact the Llano?
Several SLWA stakeholders have inquired about the notice of a public meeting on February 4th in Kerrville to discuss the Southern Edwards Plateau Habitat Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. What is this and does it impact landowners in the watershed?
Spoiler alert : It does not affect landowners in the watershed.
What is it then?
There are several endangered species located in the Southern Edwards Plateau. Of course we know the golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo. Closer to San Antonio, there are also karst invertebrates that are protected, including the Government Canyon Bat Cave spider, Braken Cave meshweaver, and Helotes mold beetle. As San Antonio and Bexar County continue to grow, it is likely that development will impact these species.
The Endangered Species Act allows for entities such as San Antonio and Bexar County to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan to develop protection measures and mitigation activities that offset any "incidental take" of the protected species that result due to activities resulting from urban development. Mitigation measures for this plan include a requirement that two acres of warbler and vireo habitat must be protected for every one acre of habitat directly impacted by development. Some protected habitat already exists; additional habitat will be obtained through voluntarily acquired preserves.
(Note: A Habitat Conservation Plan was recently approved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to offset the impacts of Edwards Aquifer pumping on the endangered species at Comal and San Marcos Springs, finally resolving a decades long water war.)
The proposed Southern Edwards Plateau Habitat Conservation Plan is designed to address the impacts to species in San Antonio and Bexar County. However, because some of the proposed mitigation measures are located in counties surrounding Bexar County (including Bandera and Kerr County), US Fish and Wildlife is also holding a public meeting in Kerrville.
Although some mitigation activites are to occur in Kerr County, no activities are proposed for the portion of the Llano watershed within the county.
Still have questions? Check out the Frequently Asked Questions page.