The Village of Salado depends largely on tourism for the local economy. Fresh water springs bubble up from the Edwards Aquifer right in the heart of town, but the springs are also home to the rare Salado Creek salamander.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering the salamander for endangered species protection. They could also designate this area protected habitat and put the brakes on all kinds of development.
Some residents are concerned.
"No one really wants to see the economy decimated because of a plan that's unfair or overly restrictive," Salado resident Robert Norris said.
Unlike some other parts of the aquifer, Bell County officials say they have already protected the springs though the Clearwater Underground Conservation District, and more regulations are unnecessary.
"We're doing what we need to do here in Bell County,” Clearwater Board President Leland Gersbach said. “The taxpayers have given us the authority when we started the district to manage the groundwater and keep the water quality up."
The stakeholders in Salado plan to present their findings to the Fish and Wildlife Service for consideration.
"Should this animal be listed, should we have to put certain kinds of protective measures in place, a lot of those protective measures are already in place," Brown said.
The final decision on the endangered species listing will be made next summer.