For Immediate Release, January 3, 2020

Contact:

Patrick Donnelly, (702) 483-0449, pdonnelly@biologicaldiversity.org

Agreement Protects Rare Nevada Wildflower From Mine Exploration

Tiehm’s Buckwheat Still Threatened by Proposed Open-pit Mine

RENO, Nev.— A Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit against the Trump administration has led to an agreement with an Australian mining company that will temporarily protect the habitat of a rare Nevada wildflower.

The agreement to protect the world’s only population of Tiehm’s buckwheat was reached this week between the Center and the mining company. It comes after the Bureau of Land Management terminated the two challenged mining-exploration permits last month.

“Our agreement saves this delicate little flower from immediate danger,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director at the Center. “But Tiehm’s buckwheat is still threatened by a destructive open-pit mine proposal. Gov. Sisolak and state officials must protect this rare Nevada beauty before it’s too late.”

In October the Center sued the BLM to challenge the exploration permits and protect Tiehm’s buckwheat from harm related to the mining company’s drilling, road construction and other operations threatening the imperiled wildflower. The Center and the Australian mineral company, Ioneer, formally approved an agreement today aimed at preventing any further destruction of the wildflower’s habitat.

Tiehm’s buckwheat is found only on 21 acres of public land in the remote Silver Peak Range of Esmerelda County, Nevada. With beautiful white flowers and prolific seed production, it is one of very few plants that grow in the highly mineralized soil to which it is adapted.

The BLM terminated Ioneer’s two mineral-exploration permits weeks after the Center sued to stop mining activities from harming the wildflower’s habitat. The Center and the mining company then reached an agreement, with Ioneer agreeing to notify the Center if it proposed any additional mining exploration or plans to build the mine. The company also agreed to use hand tools, rather than heavy machinery, for work necessary to repair the damage from exploration activities that occurred within 30 feet of one of the plant populations.

Ioneer has been conducting drilling, test pits, road construction and other exploration activities near and within the Tiehm’s buckwheat habitat in anticipation of a proposed open-pit boron/lithium mine in the area. The entire global population of Tiehm’s buckwheat lies within the footprint of the proposed mine.

Due to this dire threat, the Center sought endangered species protections from both the federal and the state government. In November the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced it would begin a review of the wildflower to determine if it qualifies for state protections.

“Tiehm’s buckwheat is a unique Nevada treasure, but it’s also just one of many species threatened by the Trump administration’s disturbing push to give away our public lands to mining companies,” Donnelly said.

Tiehm’s buckwheat (Eriogonum tiehmii). Photo credit: Patrick Donnelly, Center for Biological Diversity
Tiehm’s buckwheat (Eriogonum tiehmii). Photo credit: Patrick Donnelly, Center for Biological Diversity Images are available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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