Conservation Matters February 2012

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Dunes sagebrush lizard Texas Conservation Plan approved

dunes sagebrush lizardA voluntary species conservation plan for the dunes sagebrush lizard was approved Feb. 17 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

The Texas Conservation Plan (TCP) for the dunes sagebrush lizard was spearheaded by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs with the help of stakeholders representing landowners, the oil and gas industry, agriculture and state and federal agencies.

The TCP is a voluntary plan that serves as a safety net for landowners and businesses in West Texas who choose to enroll, according to the comptroller.

"This is great news for the Texas economy and all the people who put in hard work to develop this vital plan," Combs said. "I strongly oppose listing the dunes sagebrush lizard as an endangered species. What the TCP offers is a way to conserve lizard habitat while allowing vital sectors of the economy such as the oil and gas industry and agriculture to thrive in Texas."

FWS has reopened the comment period for 15 days on its 2010 proposal to add the lizard to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to allow the public to review and consider the conservation measures provided in the TCP, as part of the agency’s final listing determination. Written comments must be received by FWS on or before March 12, and more information on submitting comments is available at southwest.fws.gov.

According to the comptroller, she opposes the listing of the lizard because existing scientific data is inadequate to support the listing and she continues to ask the FWS not to list the species.

This past year, the oil and gas industry funded Texas A&M University researchers to collect data on the species. Their work identified 28 previously unknown locations for the species. The entire research report is available from the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources.

For more information, see the comptroller’s website, the full news release from the comptroller and the full news release from FWS.

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