We learned the hard way that there are TWO places you need to check to determine whether your property lies in these habitats. Plus, what are the building and value ramifications of the presence of Central TX endangered species on your property?
Many people are unaware that there are several endangered species of animals throughout Central Texas. For example, in 1970, the Houston toad was the first amphibian added to the Endangered Species Act. Most of Eastern Bastrop County is actually encumbered by the Houston toad habitat and there are very strict rules if you want to build a home or develop a property in the Houston toad habitat. And, many people are unaware that there are actually two Houston toad habitat maps. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife has their own designated Houston toad habitat map and Bastrop County with the Lost Pines habitat conservation plan has their own map as well.
Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way. We encouraged one of our clients to buy a large parcel of land in Bastrop County, because according to the Bastrop County toad map, it was not in the toad habitat. After we purchased the property, we found out that it was in fact in the U.S Fish and Wildlife Houston toad habitat area. Of course, you can understand how sick I was to my stomach, but our saving grace was that the U.S fish and Wildlife deemed the area where this property was as gray area, meaning there were no restrictions against developing or even doing anything to the property as long as it wasn’t a federal agency.
There are some other endangered species throughout Central Texas such as the Georgetown salamander or the golden cheek warbler, which is a very beautiful bird. We’ll discuss more about the golden cheek warbler in the next post. But, if you have property that is deemed as suitable habitat for the golden cheek warbler, there’s only a specific time of the year that you can conduct site visits and get an environmental assessment with an environmental engineer.
Now, what is the best way to find out if your property is encumbered by an endangered species? Of course, always speak with engineers. Environmental engineers will be able to tell you if it could be suitable habitat. And, then cities and counties have online resources, such as maps for the Houston toad or the golden Chief warbler, where you can see if it could be potential habitat that lies on your property.
Now, it can be very frustrating if your property has endangered species on it because it can dramatically reduce the value of your land. But, this is just something that we have to work around in the land business. It’s unconscionable to ever let any species go extinct, so these rules are in place and they’re in place for a good reason.
Feel free to reach out to us with questions or other topics you’d like to see covered.
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