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6 Species Potentially Impacted By The Vista Ridge Pipeline 

Map of the pending Vista Ridge pipeline. - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Map of the pending Vista Ridge pipeline.

A 142-mile pipeline planned to pump water into Bexar County from Burleson County is either hailed as laurel in San Antonio's water policy or is criticized for impending water rate increases that will partly pay for the the $3.4 billion deal that would provide a 30-year supply of water.

However, there are also environmental concerns that officials are considering as construction draws closer.

A May 2015 report prepared by the South Texas Regional Water Planning Group examines numerous animals, insects, amphibians, arachnids, fish mollusks and flora that could face potential impacts from the pipeline.

Six documented species, one of which is a listed federally endangered species, live within one mile of the pipeline's route. The report identifies these species as "of concern."

"This data showed documented occurrences of a ground beetle, Rhadine exilis, which is federally listed as endangered, and the Cascade Caverns salamander, a state threatened species, within one mile of the transmission pipeline route," the document states.

There are nearly 80 species listed in the report with potential habitat in the project counties.

Here's a brief breakdown of those six species the report says are "species of concern."

1. The Cascade Caverns salamander

click image Cascade Caverns salamander - CASCADE CAVERNS | FACEBOOK
  • Cascade Caverns | Facebook
  • Cascade Caverns salamander

This salamander lives in underground spring water. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department considers the Cascade Caverns salamander to be a threatened species. Not much is known about this salamander as it is only found in caves in Kendall County, Texas. The Cascade Caverns salamander is protected by the state.

2. Rhadine Exilis

Rhadine exilis - U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Rhadine exilis

This nasty-looking eyeless beetle is federally endangered, and is found northern Bexar County caves. It is protected wherever it's found.

3. Mountain plover

click to enlarge Mountain plover - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • Mountain plover

This small ground-loving bird is listed as near threatened. The bird is a documented migrant in the area that has been found near the proposed pipeline route. According to the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology's 2014 "State of the Birds" report, the mountain plover is experiencing a population decline.

4. Texas salamander

click to enlarge Texas salamander - U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Texas salamander

This little guy can be found in underground streams and at creek headwaters. However, the Texas salamander — though restricted to Central Texas — is not a threatened species and can even be collected with a hunting license, according to Herps of Texas.

5. Bracted twistflower

  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Bracted twistflower

The bracted twistflower was added to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's candidate for federal listing in 2011. Much of this pretty flower's habitat has been consumed by housing developments.

6. Hill Country wild-mercury

Hill Country wild-mercury (Argythamnia aphoroides) - MARY KETCHERSID/TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
  • Mary Ketchersid/Texas A&M University
  • Hill Country wild-mercury (Argythamnia aphoroides)

The report says this plant is endemic to the area, and is found in grasslands associated with oak woodlands. It is not threatened or listed at any level.

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