New Mexico and federal officials signed an conservation agreement to protect a habitat for the reptile and the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. That habitat covers more than 387 square miles of New Mexico land.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife is considering putting the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard on the Endangered Species List. Such a move could lead to more protections of the lizard's habitat across West Texas and Southeast New Mexico. That, in turn, could limit oil and gas production in the region.
Opponents of the listing of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard on the Endangered Species List say that the potential move could have a catastrophic effect on the Permian Basin's economy -- which is heavily influenced by the oil and gas industry.
A public comment period on the potential listing is ongoing until March 12th.
New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell believes the new conservation agreement there serves as the first step in finding a way to both protect the lizard and the Lesser Prairie Chicken and protect oil and gas development in the Permian Basin.
The move represents the largest area ever covered by a conservation agreement in New Mexico.