The Fish and Wildlife Service made a decision (pdf) recently not to list the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The distribution of the small, light brown lizard is limited to western Texas and southeastern New Mexico. The status of the species has been uncertain for a number of years; in 2004 the Service determined that listing the species was warranted but precluded by higher priority actions and in 2010 the Service proposed to list the species as endangered. The potential listing of the species drew strong opposition from Republican lawmakers in Texas and New Mexico as well as the oil and gas industries in those states. The decision was widely covered in the media. "Depending on whom you ask, and their political affiliation, a little lizard’s long-fought battle for protection ended Wednesday either in victory or defeat, or something in between," wrote Manny Fernandez in an article that appeared in the New York Times (June 13, 2012).
The decision not to list the species was based on the a determination by the Service that "voluntary conservation agreements would ensure the long-term survival of the species and its habitat." (New York Times, June 13, 2012, by Manny Fernandez.) According to the Service, those conservation measures cover over 650,000 acres, or 88 percent of the species’ habitat. The decision not to list based on voluntary agreements was criticized by at least one environmental group, but it was lauded by another.