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Hearings slated for horned lizard

June 04, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL

Staff Writer

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has scheduled public hearings on its proposed listing of the flat-tailed horned lizard as a threatened species later this month in El Centro.

The service is renewing a 1993 proposal to list the flat-tailed horned lizard as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Such a listing could close or limit access to land considered to be the lizard's habitat.

The lizard lives mainly in desert flat lands including the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area. Other areas include parts of the Anza-Borrego State Park, parts of the Coachella Valley and large parts of the Imperial Valley, said Jane Hendron, spokeswoman for the service's Carlsbad office.


Greg Thomsen, field manager of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's El Centro office, said a significant portion of the lizard's habitat, more than 100,000 acres, is in Imperial County.

The service describes the lizard as small and pale gray to light rusty brown in color with a flat body and dagger-like head spines. The lizard feeds primarily on ants and other insects.

After the first proposal to list the lizard in 1993, the service signed a management plan agreement for the lizard in 1997 with other federal and state agencies that have land holdings in the lizard's habitat.

The service then withdrew its proposal to list the lizard as threatened. Defenders of Wildlife, a conservation group, sued in response and eventually won. The service is now under court order to make a decision on the lizard by December.

The county Board of Supervisors requested a public hearing on the listing in January.

Conservation groups requested the service extend the public comment period, which originally was to end April 25. The 60-day public comment period has been reopened until 5 p.m. July 29.

The hearings are scheduled from 1-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. June 19 at Southwest High School Performing Arts Theatre, 2001 Ocotillo Dr., El Centro.

Comments and information must be submitted in writing to: Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 2730 Loker Avenue West, Carlsbad, CA 92008. Questions should be directed to Sandy Vissman, Douglas Krofta or Jane Hendron in the Carlsbad office at 431-9440.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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