Interior: Plants warrant federal protection

The federal government has declared two western Colorado wildflowers to be candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act, conservation groups say.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar determined the skiff milkvetch and Scholl’s milkvetch warrant but can’t be listed for protection because of higher priorities, WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Native Ecoystems said in a news release.

Colorado is the only state where the plants are found, the groups said. The skiff milkvetch, which gets its name from its boat-shaped fruits, occupies just 83 acres in Gunnison and Saguache counties. Schmoll’s milkvetch has a total of four populations, and is found on mesa tops in Mesa Verde National Park and the Ute Mountain Ute reservation.

Drought, climate change and proliferation of cheatgrass, a nonnative species, are considered threats to both plants. Livestock grazing, development, and roads and trails are among other threats to the skiff milkvetch, the groups say.


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