I appreciate Henry Brean’s examination of the proposed expansion of the Lee Canyon ski resort in your May 3 article.
The Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly is one of the most critically endangered insects in the country, and the ski resort is directly in the middle of the butterfly’s designated critical habitat. According to the Endangered Species Act, critical habitat encompasses all lands “essential to the conservation of the species,” and agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service are prohibited from authorizing actions that are likely to “destroy or adversely modify” such habitat.
Those who love the “Blue” are grateful for the many steps the ski resort has taken to ensure the butterfly’s survival. However, caution must be taken to ensure the expansion does not jeopardize the butterfly’s continued recovery. There are just a precious few butterflies left and the population may still be in decline.
In particular, claims that aspects of the expansion may actually improve the butterfly’s habitat are hopeful but must be thoroughly investigated and vetted by independent investigators.
The chief consideration that Forest Service officials must have in mind when evaluating the proposed Lee Canyon ski resort expansion is the continued survival and recovery of the Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly. The future of this beautiful creature, in peril of forever disappearing from the face of the Earth, depends on it.