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Commissioners hold public hearings, vote on action items

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Chaves County Commissioners also voted at their Thursday meeting on several different action items.

Commissioners held six public hearings during the regular monthly meeting. Five involved zoning or special permit cases on county properties, while the other concerned changes to county personnel policies. No opposition to any of the proposed changes was voiced during the meeting, and commissioners voted to approve all six matters.

Commissioners also approved a resolution concerning the dunes sagebrush lizard.

Their vote follows a May 8 petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by two conservation groups to reclassify the lizard as either endangered or threatened.

In June, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity said the greatest concern involved Texas and its sand mining operations. Chris Nagano said that sand mining began to be a significant industry in Texas in 2016, four years after that state and New Mexico signed an agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service about habitat preservation and species conservation. The agreement kept the lizard from being categorized as endangered. Nagano said his group has found that sand mining is doing harm in Texas to the sand dunes and the shinnery oaks where the lizard lives.

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County Manager Stanton Riggs said that the resolution before county commissioners has been adopted by other counties in Texas and is agreement with some state officials’ opinions. The resolution indicates the industries are using best practices and protocols developed by consultants for surveying lizard populations and developing site-specific plans to preserve the lizard’s habitats. As a result, according to the resolution, some companies have voluntarily set aside land for lizard habitat and are taking active steps to monitor lizard populations.

“We recommend that these industries follow the best practices,” he said, “because the sagebrush lizard will thrive and we believe is thriving, and will do well and not soon to be endangered.”

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