April 24, 2012

VIDEO: Udall, Fish & Wildlife Director Discuss Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Conservation

WASHINGTON - At a hearing of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) discussed conservation efforts between government agencies and New Mexico's oil and gas, and agricultural industries to protect the habitat of the dunes sagebrush lizard.

Testifying at the hearing, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe described how conservation agreements with industry have been working, expressed hope that it would avoid the necessity to list the lizard as an endangered species, and called the program an emerging model for protecting species across the nation. Udall and Ashe also discussed the important role the Carlsbad-based non-profit organization, the Center for Excellence in Hazardous Materials Management, plays in implementing the conservation agreements.

Last week, Udall and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) praised U.S. Fish and Wildlife leadership for working with ranchers, the oil and gas industry and the New Mexico State Land Office to protect the lizard, and urged the completion of similar agreements in Texas.

After initially proposing endangered species status for the dunes sagebrush lizard in 2010 pursuant to a litigation settlement, the Fish and Wildlife Service has 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 90 percent of the lizard's habitat in New Mexico is protected through the agreements.