New Mexico State land commissioner, Ray Powell, signed a conservation agreement today aimed at protecting the Lesser Prairie Chicken and the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard on the Permian Basin in Southeastern New Mexico.
Powell says today’s agreement is the result of a collaborative effort allowing oil and gas production to continue in the area, but with added restrictions.
"We’ve gotten the fine professionals from US Fish and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, our game and fish department and the public sector, the oil and gas industry and our ranchers together at the table to say it’s important to take care of the health of the land"
Environmental groups that have been working to get the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard and Lesser Prairie Chicken listed as endangered argue that Conservation Agreements are often not strong enough to make a difference. But Marty Teugel, the cooperative conservation coordinator with the US Fish and Wildlife Service says, he’s optimistic.
"We’re getting the avoidance of threats the removal of threats and then restoration work to improve the long term habitat quality for these species."
More than 2.5 million acres of land in New Mexico are enrolled in Candidate Conservation agreements.