Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Earns Spot on Endangered Species List
Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Earns Spot on Endangered Species List

On May 20, 2024, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule listing the dunes sagebrush lizard (Scleroperus arenicolus) (DSL) as endangered (Final Rule) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In the Final Rule, the Service identifies habitat loss and fragmentation of dunelands associated with oil and natural gas production and frac sand mining as the primary threat to the species, with climate change causing additional impacts.

The Service received more than 18,000 comments on its proposed rule to list the DSL, with many urging the Service not to list the species or to list the species as threatened rather than endangered. In response to comments that the agency failed to give adequate consideration to voluntary conservation efforts, including candidate conservation agreements with assurances (CCAAs) undertaken by several industry groups, the Service responded that these efforts have not eliminated the loss of DSL habitat, that fragmentation of dunelands continues to occur without sufficient mitigation, and that enrollment in the CCAAs is low.

In the Final Rule the Service indicated that designation of critical habitat is prudent, but not determinable at this time. As such, the agency will address critical habitat via a separate rulemaking in the future.

  • Rebecca Hays Barho

    Rebecca Hays Barho focuses her practice on natural resource law, with particular emphasis on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the Clean Water Act ...

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

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