April 18, 2012

Senators Praise Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Conservation Agreements

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman today praised the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and New Mexico's oil and gas, and agricultural industries for working together to establish agreements to protect the habitat of the dunes sagebrush lizard. In a letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife leadership, presented today to Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle, the senators thanked the agency for their work and encouraged the Regional Director to continue to work with stakeholders in the state of Texas to pursue similar agreements.

Photos of Tuggle's meeting with Udall are available here and photos with Bingaman are available here.

"This level of habitat preservation is a result of commitments by industry and agriculture and the New Mexico State Land Office under the strong leadership of Ray Powell, in coordination with Federal agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management," said the senators in the letter. "We commend the efforts of industry, Federal and State agencies, and individual producers to create a situation where the New Mexico economy and lizard can recover together."

After initially proposing endangered species status for the dunes sagebrush lizard in 2010, the Fish and Wildlife Service has increasingly worked with businesses to establish Candidate Conservation Agreements that will stabilize the species' population, foster habitat restoration, and allow the oil and gas, and agricultural industries to continue to thrive. More than 95 percent of the lizard's habitat in New Mexico is protected through the agreements.

The full text of the senators' letter follows: