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For Immediate Release, February 22, 2011

Contact: Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681

Obama Administration Denies Protection for Three More Endangered Species

WASHINGTON— The Obama administration denied Endangered Species Act protection today to three Utah plants that government scientists have said need those protections to avoid extinction. Instead, the federal government designated the species as “warranted but precluded” and placed the plants on a growing list of “candidate” species, where they will wait indefinitely for the protection they need to survive. To date, President Barack Obama’s Interior Department has used the warranted-but-precluded designation for 21 species — more than any other administration. 

“The Obama government has no sense of urgency when it comes to addressing the extinction crisis in our country,” said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity, which is working to save hundreds of species relegated to the candidate list. “The Endangered Species Act can save our plants and animals, but only if they’re granted real protection.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under President Obama is repeatedly refusing to grant species the protection for which they are known to qualify, adding them instead to the waiting list, where 257 species now face extinction. On average, the species on the candidate list have been awaiting protection there for 20 years; at least 24 species have gone extinct while waiting.

To date the Obama government has only granted Endangered Species Act protection to 58 species, for a rate of 29 species per year. In contrast, President Clinton protected 522 species under the Endangered Species Act for a rate of 65 species per year, while the first Bush administration protected 232 species for a rate of 58 per year.

The three plants added to the candidate list today are all flowers from Utah threatened by grazing, mining and climate change. Frisco buckwheat is a pinkish-white, perennial flower that grows in mounds; Ostler’s peppergrass is an herb in the mustard family with purplish flowers. They occur in four locations in the San Francisco Mountains in Beaver County, Utah. The third species, Frisco clover, has hairy, silver leaves and reddish-purple flowers and is known only from five populations in three mountain ranges in Utah’s Beaver and Millard counties.

The Center and other groups have an active lawsuit in Washington, D.C., showing that continued delays in protecting candidate species are illegal because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not making expeditious progress listing species as required by the Endangered Species Act.

Learn more about our campaign to earn protection for all the candidate species.

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