Feds say West Texas lizard does not merit protected status Houston Chronicle Copyright 2012 Houston Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Updated 10:35 p.m., Wednesday, June 13, 2012 The dunes sagebrush lizard of the West Texas oil patch will not receive special protections as an endangered species, the Obama administration announced Wednesday. The administration's surprising turn came two years after federal officials proposed the strongest level of protection under the Endangered Species Act for the rare sand-dwelling reptile, which has lost critical habitat to energy development and livestock grazing in West Texas and New Mexico. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the decision rested, in part, on the idea that conservation efforts by oil and gas companies and ranchers would help restore and maintain habitat for the lizard. "Research continued to reinforce that listing the lizard as an endangered species was unwarranted," said Deb Hastings, executive vice president of the industry association.