Black Mountain Sand LLC announced that the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, in conjunction with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), has granted its Vest and El Dorado frac sand mines together a Certificate of Inclusion into the Texas Conservation Plan (TCP) for the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (DSL).
Black Mountain is one of the only frac sand companies expected to receive a certificate, the product of several months of diligence, planning and coordination with the Texas Comptroller’s office. Black Mountain’s proactive property management and conservation measures will protect it and its customers from potential disruptions to Permian Basin frac sand mining.
The DSL is indigenous to the shinnery oak dunes of southeastern New Mexico and west Texas. USFWS proposed listing the DSL as an endangered species in 2010 amid worries that oil and gas activity within the Permian Basin could threaten the species’ survival. In June 2012, the Texas Conservation Plan was formed through a state-led voluntary conservation effort.
This landmark agreement encourages property owners to enroll land within the plan in exchange for coverage if the DSL is listed under the enhancement of survival permits pursuant to Section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act.
Black Mountain recognized early the importance of this issue and how, if handled poorly, it could jeopardize not only frac sand mining activities, but also the progress made by existing Permian Basin stakeholders.
Prior to entering the Texas Conservation Plan, Black Mountain committed to limiting its mining plans to areas completely outside of the mapped habitat established in 2012. Now, with entry into the TCP it has also agreed to fund research, dedicate acreage to a conservation easement and conduct its mining operations by an agreed upon, environmentally sensitive protocol.
“We intend to be here for the next 30 years,” commented Rhett Bennett, Black Mountain chief executive officer. “We want to be good neighbors, and thoughtful contributors to the community and the issues it faces.”
Dr. Robert Gulley, director of economic growth and endangered species management for the Texas Comptroller’s office, said, “This is a great example of the Texas Conservation Plan working as it was intended. Through voluntary enrollment and disciplined stewardship, we will preserve economic activity and protect the dunes sagebrush lizard’s habitat.”