Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 9, 2023


Patrick Donnelly, (702) 483-0449,

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Tiehm’s Buckwheat From Cattle Trampling

Destruction Discovered After Nevada Wildflower Protected as Endangered

RENO, Nev.— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice today of its intent to sue the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to protect the rare Nevada wildflower Tiehm’s buckwheat from destruction due to cattle grazing. The notice seeks to remove cattle from the buckwheat’s federally protected critical habitat.

“Tiehm’s buckwheat is one of North America’s most endangered plants, but federal officials are letting the livestock industry run roughshod over its fragile habitat,” said Patrick Donnelly, the Center’s Great Basin director, who documented the damage. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized cattle grazing as a threat to the buckwheat’s existence, but the Bureau of Land Management has done nothing to protect these wildflowers.”

Tiehm’s buckwheat is a small wildflower with yellow pom-pom flowers that grows on just 10 acres of public land in the Silver Peak Range of Esmeralda County. The rare plants are threatened by the proposed Rhyolite Ridge lithium mine.

After years of advocacy and litigation by the Center, Tiehm’s buckwheat was listed under the Endangered Species Act in December and given additional protections for critical habitat across its entire tiny range.

On Jan. 3 the Center discovered seven cows grazing within this fragile plant’s habitat, destroying individual plants and degrading the critical habitat. Last year the BLM claimed that cattle had been voluntarily removed from the site.

In an additional blow to the plant, a mysterious incident in 2020 killed more than 50% of the Tiehm’s buckwheat population, leaving approximately 15,000 plants remaining on Earth.

“Each one of these plants is precious and essential for the recovery of this endangered species,” said Donnelly. “It’s totally unacceptable that the BLM is letting cows destroy this wildflower’s protected critical habitat while greenlighting a lithium mine that could wipe out the whole species. We’re going to court to hold this agency accountable for protecting each and every buckwheat.”

Cows in Tiehm’s buckwheat habitat, Esmerelda County, Nevada. 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 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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