New organization will lead lizard program

New organization will lead lizard program

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - Texas Comptrollers and the Texas Habitat Conservation Foundation ended their partnership four years into a plan expected to protect the dune sagebrush lizards from becoming endangered species in the Permian Basin.

Jason Brooks, Executive Director of  the Texas Habitat Conservation Foundation, said, "Up until recently we've been in charge of administering the Texas conservation plan for the dune sagebrush lizard."

Officials pulled the funding because they believed the foundation didn't do it's best to repair parts of the habitat.

Dr. Robert Gulley, Executive Director of Economic Growth and Endangered Species Management for the Texas Comptrollers, said, "Drilling and associated activities breaks up the habitat of the lizard."

"What's really important was the partnerships that we developed the oil and gas companies that we worked with, the landowners that we worked with that were out there basically doing what needed to be done to keep this lizard off the list," said Brooks.

Brooks added losing the funding now leaves the foundation in limbo.

"Right now we're a non-profit organization without any source of funding. So we're trying to find alternate sources of funding for the foundation or decide whether or not we want to close the foundation," said Brooks."

As the project looks towards the future, there will need to be a balance so both businesses and the lizards could thrive.

"I think that this program is going to do a lot to make sure the lizard is able to survive and hopefully recover to the point it will no longer require additional protection," said Gulley.

"This is a concerted effort between oil and gas companies, land owners, pipe line companies all coming together to work for this lizard," said Brooks.

Gulley tells NewsWest 9 biologists, scientists, and managers from Bio West a company with offices in Houston and Austin will be continuing the sagebrush lizard program.

Copyright 2016 KWES. All rights reserved.