Feds plan to consider expanded protection for endangered plant

People who love clay-loving buckwheat are getting a second chance to see its limited habitat protected.

Several environmental groups filed a petition earlier this year to urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand habitat protection for the rare species.

When the federal agency did not respond, the Center for Native Ecosystems filed a lawsuit.

In a court settlement signed last week, Fish and Wildlife agreed to look at the plant’s habitat again and consider giving the angiosperm further federal protection.

“This wildflower deserves a second chance,” Center for Native Ecosystems biologist Erin Robertson said.

“Expanding the critical habitat designation to protect the most biologically valuable sites just makes sense.”

The plant was granted endangered species status in 1984, Robertson said, when it appeared to grow on only 125 acres. Later habitat discoveries show the rare species grows on approximately 1,000 acres, and in 1988 a recovery plan was adopted by Fish and Wildlife to designate additional critical habitat areas when they were identified, Robertson said. But nothing was ever done.

The plant is threatened by off-road vehicles and proposed road expansion around Montrose, Robertson said.

Ellen Mayo, state botanist for Fish and Wildlife, said her agency will begin a process in June 2009 to look at the plant’s range and will have a decision about extending protection to more habitat areas by September of next year.


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