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Conservation group sues feds to protect rare Nevada wildflower

Updated September 30, 2020 - 7:22 pm

A conservation group filed a lawsuit against two federal agencies Tuesday in an effort to protect a rare Nevada wildflower.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management in U.S. District Court. The filing also names two officials with the government agencies, as well as U.S. Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

The lawsuit seeks emergency protection for Tiehm’s buckwheat, a wildflower that has been found only in Nevada on 10 acres in Esmeralda County.

The filing comes two weeks after the center said conservationists found an estimated 40 percent of the Tiehm’s buckwheat population destroyed.

After the discovery, the center asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a second time to protect the wildflower under the Endangered Species Act. It also asked the Bureau of Land Management to take immediate steps to protect the plants. The center said both agencies failed to act.

“Our federal agencies have failed to protect this vulnerable little wildflower, and now it’s on the brink of extinction,” the center’s state director, Patrick Donnelly, said in a statement. Donnelly said a proposed mine is enough to warrant federal protection for the plant, but the recent destruction proves the need to protect the flower.

The center filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year to list the flower as an endangered species.

Ioneer Ltd., the mining company, has said its proposal for the mine includes a plan to protect the rare wildflower.

A spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said investigations into the cause of the recent destruction of the flower are ongoing and will probably be complete in two to three weeks. The state maintains it has no evidence that humans destroyed the plants.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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