Endangered, Threatened, & Rare Species
There are several types of protections that plants and animals can be afforded on both the state and federal level. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is authorized under Chapters 67, 68, and 88 of Title 31 of the Texas Administrative Code to regulate plant and animal species that are designated as state threatened or endangered. Unlike federal protections, these regulations are only applicable within the state of Texas. For more information, visit the TPWD Nongame and Rare Species Program website at https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/wildlife_diversity/nongame/.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was created in 1973 to protect and recover imperiled species and their ecosystems. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is the lead agency for designating species and enforcing these regulations. For more information, visit the USFWS Endangered Species page at https://www.fws.gov/endangered/laws-policies/. Since 2009, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts office (TCPA) has been tasked by the Texas Legislature with developing conservation plans and funding research efforts to help ensure that the federal government makes transparent listing decisions for species in Texas based on accurate and current technical information and scientific research, with meaningful input from the public. More information about the TCPA’s Natural Resource Programs can be found at https://comptroller.texas.gov/programs/natural-resources/what-we-do/.
The National Listing Workplan provides a framework and prioritization tool for the USFWS to address listing and critical habitat decisions. This plan is updated regularly, the most recent version is available here https://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/listing-workplan.html. For the Trinity basin, active research is underway for two species of native freshwater mussels (Texas fawnsfoot and Texas heel splitter) and two species of turtle (Alligator snapping turtle and the Western chicken turtle).
TRA works to provide research and data to support evidence-based decisions. Better science helps to improve outcomes for endangered species in consideration of the vital role natural resources play in our vibrant economy.