Local lizard may go on endangered list

April 9, 2011 • Local News

State lawmakers were adding fuel to the anxiety of local and neighboring county, city and village officials Friday, regarding the potential for a local species of lizard being added to the federal government’s endangered species list.

The elected officials spoke during the Southeastern New Mexico Economic Development District and Council of Governments’ board of directors quarterly meeting.

Representatives from five regional counties and more than a dozen cities and villages were told by lawmakers that the dunes sagebrush lizard’s — commonly referred to as the sand dune lizard — federal listing would be detrimental to [auth] oil and gas production and would send shock waves through other local industry.

“You need to know straight up,” said Rep. Dennis Kintigh, R-Roswell, who pointed out that 19 percent of the state’s recurring revenues derive from the oil and gas industry. “If there are severe restrictions (on oil and gas exploration and drilling) … (it) will have direct and lasting impacts.

Kintigh was joined by Reps. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, and Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, who urged the group to attend a public meeting on the lizard in Roswell on April 28 at the Eastern New Mexico University- Roswell Performing Arts Center, 64 University Blvd., at 3:30 p.m.

“We need every voice we can to come to this meeting … on what I call the ‘sand doom lizard,’” Wooley said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the reopening of the public comment period on Wednesday. According to the release, a similar meeting is planned to be hosted in Midland on April 27.

“The dunes sagebrush lizard faces immediate and significant threats due to oil and gas activities and herbicide treatments,” reads the announcement.

“The species is highly restricted in its range and the threats occur throughout its range. “Habitat loss and fragmentation due to oil and gas development is a measurable factor impacting the species due to the removal of shinnery oak and creation of roads and pads, pipelines and power lines,” it reads.

The message from lawmakers was not lost on the meeting’s attendees. “It’s going to have a tremendous impact on economic development,” said Hubert Quintana, SENMEDD executive director.

“It’s not going to affect just oil and gas, it’s going affect every area,” he said.

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