Protect the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard
Final signature count: 6,978
Sponsor: The Rainforest Site
Threatened by energy development, mining, and climate change, the survival of this tiny lizard hangs in the balance. Take action now!
In the heart of the lucrative oil and natural gas basins of southeastern New Mexico and West Texas, an inconspicuous creature teeters on the brink of extinction. The dunes sagebrush lizard, found nowhere else in the world, faces relentless threats from energy development, mining, and climate change1. Its survival now hangs in the balance as conservationists clash with oil and gas operators and ranchers in a battle that could determine the lizard's fate.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed federal protections for this imperiled species2. This decision is crucial, and the stakes have never been higher.
Measuring a mere 2.5 inches in length, the dunes sagebrush lizard possesses the second smallest range of any lizard in North America3. With its light brown, spiny appearance, it seamlessly blends into its sandy dune habitat, allowing it to withstand extreme environments. However, the encroaching oil and gas industry and resulting habitat degradation threaten the lizard's very existence3. The destruction caused by the industry not only harms the lizard but also exacerbates the global extinction crisis and fuels climate change3.
Over 95% of the original shinnery oak dunes ecosystem, once vibrant and thriving, has been ravaged by oil and gas extraction, development, and herbicide spraying for livestock grazing3. Habitat fragmentation further challenges the lizards, hindering their ability to find mates beyond their immediate vicinity. Sand-mining operations, driven by the oil and gas industry's demand for fracking, compound their plight3.
Environmentalists have long fought for the protection of the dunes sagebrush lizard through petitions, lawsuits, and conservation agreements4. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed federal protections, recognizing the urgent need to safeguard the lizard from further harm4.
Yet, the clash between conservationists and industry interests persists. Oil and gas operators and ranchers argue that listing the lizard as an endangered species could disrupt their businesses and impose additional costs5. While voluntary agreements have been made, critics argue that they have proven insufficient to ensure the lizard's well-being5.
The battle for the dunes sagebrush lizard's survival is not new. In 2012, federal officials chose not to grant protections, citing voluntary conservation agreements and the "best available science6." However, the urgency of the situation demands action.
Now is the time to act! We must join together to support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal to list the dunes sagebrush lizard to the Endangered Species Act. By signing our petition, you can make a difference and contribute to the preservation of this remarkable creature and the biodiversity it represents.
Join the fight to protect the dunes sagebrush lizard from extinction! Sign the petition now and add your voice to the call for federal protections. Together, we can secure a future where species like the dunes sagebrush lizard continue to thrive and contribute to the rich tapestry of life on Earth.
- Associated Press (1 October 2019), "Lizard protections sought in Southwest amid US oil boom."
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Register (14 December 2010), "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status for Dunes Sagebrush Lizard."
- Center for Biological Diversity, "Saving The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard."
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, "Candidate Conservation Agreements."
- Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity (19 May 2022), "Lawsuit Aims to Protect Dunes Sagebrush Lizard From Extinction."
- Sonia Smith, Texas Monthly (21 January 2013), "No Endangered Species Listing for Dunes Sagebrush Lizard."
To the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
I am writing to express my strong support for the proposal to list the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The survival of this rare and unique creature is now in critical jeopardy, as it faces relentless threats from energy development, mining, and climate change in southeastern New Mexico and West Texas.
The dunes sagebrush lizard, found nowhere else in the world, plays a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of its ecosystem. Measuring a mere 2.5 inches in length, it possesses the second smallest range of any lizard in North America. Its light brown, spiny appearance allows it to seamlessly blend into its sandy dune habitat, where it faces increasing challenges due to habitat degradation caused by the oil and gas industry.
Over 95% of the original shinnery oak dunes ecosystem, the lizard's habitat, has been ravaged by oil and gas extraction, development, and herbicide spraying for livestock grazing. This destruction has resulted in habitat fragmentation, hindering the lizard's ability to find suitable mates beyond its shrinking populations. Sand-mining operations, driven by the demand for fracking, further threaten the species.
I commend the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for recognizing the urgent need to protect the dunes sagebrush lizard. The proposed federal protections are crucial to safeguarding this imperiled species from further harm. It is essential to ensure the survival of the lizard, as its existence represents a unique and irreplaceable part of our natural heritage.
By listing the dunes sagebrush lizard as an endangered species, we can provide the necessary legal framework to preserve its habitat and implement robust conservation measures. This listing will also foster collaboration among stakeholders, encouraging responsible industry practices that prioritize the lizard's survival while addressing concerns raised by oil and gas operators and ranchers.
I urge you to move forward with the proposal to list the dunes sagebrush lizard to the Endangered Species Act. The time to act is now, as the fate of this remarkable creature hangs in the balance. We have a collective responsibility to protect and preserve the biodiversity that enriches our planet, and the dunes sagebrush lizard's survival is a critical part of that endeavor.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I trust that you will give careful consideration to this petition, taking into account the urgent need to protect and restore the dunes sagebrush lizard's habitat. Together, we can ensure a future where species like the dunes sagebrush lizard continue to thrive and contribute to the rich tapestry of life on Earth.