New West Texas Species Up for Endangered Species List

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

WEST TEXAS - Meet the new West Texas critters up for endangered species listing as of Wednesday.

The Gonzales and Diamond Y Spring Snails, the Phantom Cave Snail and Phantom Springsnail, as well as the crustaceans, the Diminutive and Pecos Amphipods.

Their habitat spans 450 acres around Reeves, Jeff Davis and Pecos Counties.

These little guys sit in scattered water springs.

"That's part of what they feed on is rotting organic matter and that's part of what keeps the springs clean," Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity Conservation Advocate, said.

But for some oil experts, these little guys are bad news for oil and gas, calling this the dunes sagebrush lizard argument, reborn.

"We've gotten that one off. Now we're after the prairie chicken and the phantom cave snail and many other things," Oil Consultant, Morris Burns, said. "There's always the threat."

What's different is that all but six acres of their habitat are already owned by the non-profit, The Nature Conservancy, and oil and gas drills on that land.

What's on the ground isn't the problem.

"The pumping of the aquifer is a very significant threat," Robinson said.

Specifically, the Rustle Aquifer and the Salt Basin Bolson Aquifer.

If the listing goes through, conservation advocates said it's too early to know what recovery plans will be but the press release from the Center for Biological Diversity lists water pumping and off site oil and gas-related activities as threats, leaving oil experts up in arms.

"What in the world is more important? To create jobs? To have gasoline to put in our car? Or some little phantom cave snail?" Burns asked.

Conservation advocates argue that the scope of these little guys is far too small to hurt West Texas oil and gas.

"These are animals that are located in less than one square mile, two spring complex in several different areas," Robinson said. "These are animals with very small ranges."

You've heard from both sides now but the comment period is up to you.

Coming up in a few days, you can make your voice heard on the matter online at the Federal Register website.

Keep it right here on NewsWest 9 and, we'll let you know once the period begins.