Federal government considers Kern County ‘legless’ lizard for endangered species
The federal government is considering endangered species protection for the Temblor legless lizard. | Chad Lane / Flickr
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has begun a “rigorous” year-long review of whether to put the Temblor legless lizard on the endangered species list.
The snake-like lizard lives in “the sandy, alkaline desert scrub of central California,” the federal agency said in a statement. Press release.
Its habitat is a narrow strip on the eastern side of the Temblor Mountain Range, from Kern County to western Fresno County, between the mountains and State Highway 33, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, which petitioned for the protection of the Endangered Species Act last October.
The species faces potential threats from oil and gas development, habitat fragmentation and climate change, the statement said.
The agency will also examine urbanization, industrial solar projects and wildfires as potential threats to the species, agency spokeswoman Meghan Snow said. Sun of the Kern Valley.
“The next step will be to analyze the best available scientific data and discuss with species experts to come to a 12-month conclusion,” she said.
It is not known how many lizards there are, but the species is considered “rare and has a low population density,” according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Most of the lizard’s habitat is on private land heavily developed for oil and gas drilling, according to the petition.
“Kern County is the largest oil-producing county in California, and more than 98% of the lizard’s range is open to oil and gas development,” the center said.
Any oil and gas extraction threatens cash, but the techniques used in Kern County are particularly damaging, the center said in its petition.
“The mining techniques in Kern County, including steam flooding, cyclic steam, water flooding and hydraulic fracturing, consume a lot of energy and water, causing a wide range of damage to species and ecosystem functions in addition to threats from conventional extraction, ”the center said. “Without adequate measures to protect the lizard, this species is threatened with extinction. “