For Immediate Release, July 23, 2020

Contact:

Andrea Zaccardi, (303) 854-7748, azaccardi@biologicaldiversity.org

Critical Habitat Designated for Threatened Idaho Plant

Slickspot Peppergrass, Plant’s Sagebrush Habitats at Risk

BOISE, Idaho—The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated critical habitat today for slickspot peppergrass, a rare and threatened plant found only in southwestern Idaho. The decision proposes approximately 42,129 acres of protected habitat in Ada, Elmore, Gem, Payette and Owyhee counties in Idaho. The designation is roughly 20,000 acres less than the acreage proposed in 2014.

“More acres should have been included, but we’re happy to see the slickspot peppergrass finally getting the additional protection it needs,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This plant is struggling to survive, and we’re hopeful the critical habitat designation will help put it on the path to recovery.”

Slickspot peppergrass is a flowering sagebrush-steppe plant threatened by agriculture, mining, urban sprawl, livestock grazing and invasive species. It lives largely on the Snake River Plain, Owyhee Plateau and adjacent foothills in southwestern Idaho.

Only roughly 90 occurrences remain. Most are in degraded and low-quality habitat, with few plants. The slickspot peppergrass suffers the highest known elimination rate of any Idaho plant species.

Today’s critical habitat designation follows years of litigation, including most recently a lawsuit by the Center seeking a revised critical habitat designation. The Fish and Wildlife Service entered into an agreement with the Center in October 2019 to finalize a new critical habitat designation for slickspot peppergrass by June 30, 2020.

Under the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service is charged with designating critical habitat within two years of a species receiving federal protection. Although the Service first proposed to list the slickspot peppergrass in 2002, the plant did not receive Endangered Species Act protection until 2009, when it was listed as a threatened species. After that listing was challenged by then Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, it was remanded and not reinstated until 2016.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.