N.M. county prepares for possible lizard conservation
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.