N.M. county pre­pares for pos­si­ble lizard con­ser­va­tion

Santa Fe New Mexican - - LOCAL & REGION - By Lisa Dun­lap

ROSWELL — A lit­tle lizard is the cen­ter of con­tro­versy again, with a Chaves County ad­min­is­tra­tor vow­ing to work if need be to keep lands in the county avail­able for busi­ness use.

“The lizard is back on our radar,” said Chaves County Man­ager Stan­ton Riggs at the June 25 Board of Com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing.

Riggs said that the county is work­ing on the is­sue with Chaves County Pub­lic Lands Com­mis­sioner Dan Gi­rand and the Amer­i­can Stew­ards of Lib­erty. Amer­i­can Stew­ards is a landown­ers’ ad­vo­cacy and le­gal rights non­profit based in Austin, Texas, that works on sev­eral is­sues, in­clud­ing pre­vent­ing or re­mov­ing En­dan­gered Species Act list­ings when the group thinks fed­eral pro­tec­tions are un­nec­es­sary.

Gi­rand, also leg­isla­tive and reg­u­la­tory af­fairs man­ager for Mack En­ergy Corp., said the lizard list­ing — as well as on­go­ing dis­cus­sions about pro­tec­tions for the lesser prairie chicken — could af­fect all sorts of busi­ness in­ter­ests, not just oil and gas, in Lea, Eddy, Chaves, Roo­sevelt and Curry coun­ties.

“There will be ar­eas where they won’t want graz­ing to take place,” Gi­rand said..

The dune sage­brush lizard is again a mat­ter of con­cern af­ter two na­tional con­ser­va­tion groups pe­ti­tioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice May 8 to re­clas­sify the lizard as ei­ther en­dan­gered or threat­ened and to pro­tect its habi­tat in south­east New Mex­ico and West Texas.

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