Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 25, 2022


Patrick Donnelly, (702) 483-0449,

Lawsuit Launched Seeking Final Endangered Species Protection for Nevada’s Rare Tiehm’s Buckwheat

RENO, Nev.— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice today of its intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to force it to finalize Endangered Species Act protections for the rare Nevada wildflower Tiehm’s buckwheat.

“Tiehm’s buckwheat is staring down the barrel of extinction, and it can’t wait one more day for Endangered Species Act protection,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the Center. “The Service is dragging its feet on protecting this rare wildflower and apparently needs the threat of legal action to do its job.”

The unique buckwheat, which is threatened with extinction by a lithium mine, was proposed for protection as an endangered species on Oct. 7, 2021. Under federal law the Service has one year from the date of a proposed rule to issue a final rule, after accepting public input.

Tiehm’s buckwheat grows on just 10 acres of public land in the Silver Peak Range of Esmeralda County and is adapted to live on lithium-rich soils. Ioneer’s Rhyolite Ridge Mine would be a 1,000-foot-deep, mile-wide open pit that would eventually destroy 90% of the buckwheat’s native range.

In October 2019 the Center filed an Endangered Species Act petition for Tiehm’s buckwheat, citing the existential threat of the Rhyolite Ridge Mine. In 2020 the Center successfully sued the Service for failure to act on the petition, which led to last year’s proposed rule.

More than 100 scientists have urged the Biden administration to immediately protect Tiehm’s buckwheat because of the threat of extinction. The fight for the wildflower has drawn international attention and has come to represent the tradeoffs inherent in the clean energy transition.

“Lithium is part of our renewable energy transition, but it can’t come at the cost of extinction,” said Donnelly. “Nevada’s biodiversity is too special to sacrifice to mining, no matter how important the minerals are. We won’t let politics and greed win out over science and the law.”

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

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.

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