Because the Barton Springs Salamander and the Austin Blind Salamander are federally endangered species, the City of Austin must have a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue the operation of Barton Springs as a recreation area. The permit is issued under the Endangered Species Act Section 10(a)(1)(B) and is referred to as an incidental take permit. The City’s first incidental take permit was issued in 1998 and would have expired in October 2013.
The federal permit is based on conservation measures described in a Habitat Conservation Plan. The Barton Springs Habitat Conservation Plan details the actions the City will conduct that adversely affect the Barton Springs Salamander and the Austin Blind Salamander and their habitats, and how the impact of those actions will be reduced or compensated to protect both species. The plan can only cover actions by the City in and around Barton Springs that may affect the Barton Springs Salamander or the Austin Blind Salamander and does not involve any actions associated with the federally threatened Jollyville Plateau Salamander in northwest Austin or actions outside of the City's jurisdiction in the contributing zone of the Edwards Aquifer.
City salamander biologists revised and expanded the Habitat Conservation Plan for Barton Springs in July 2013 after a 2-year process involving citizen input and extensive coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The current incidental take permit from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service was issued in September 2013 and will expire in 2033.