For Immediate Release, September 29, 2020

Contact:

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

Lawsuit Seeks Emergency Protections for Rare Nevada Wildflower

Tiehm’s Buckwheat, Threatened by Open-pit Mine, Lost 40% of Population This Summer

LAS VEGAS— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management today seeking protection for the rare Nevada wildflower Tiehm’s buckwheat.

The Center, which petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the plant under the Endangered Species Act on an emergency basis in 2019, discovered earlier this month that approximately 40% of the plants had suddenly been either destroyed or removed. Tiehm’s buckwheat, found on only 10 acres of public land in the remote Silver Peak Range of Esmerelda County, is threatened by a proposed open-pit lithium-boron mine and mining-related activities.

“Our federal agencies have failed to protect this vulnerable little wildflower, and now it’s on the brink of extinction,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director at the Center. “The mining company having the buckwheat in its sights was enough of a threat to warrant emergency listing. This new destruction underscores the urgent need to save Tiehm’s buckwheat before it’s too late.”

After discovering that as many as 17,000 of the vulnerable wildflowers had been destroyed, the Center renewed its request for emergency protections to protect the wildflower under the Endangered Species Act. The Center also petitioned the Bureau of Land Management to take immediate actions to protect the wildflower, such as 24-hour security and fencing. The agencies have failed to respond to the Center’s petitions despite the clear threats to this wildflower.

In July more than 100 scientists signed a letter urging protections for Tiehm’s buckwheat, saying it is “one of the most at-risk plant species that is threatened with extinction in the United States.”

“We asked for emergency protections almost a year ago, and the federal government is still dragging its feet,” said Donnelly. “With nearly half the world’s population of this beautiful wildflower wiped out, we must go to court to prevent its extinction.”

Nevada is a biodiversity hotspot, with more than 300 species or subspecies that occur nowhere else on Earth, including more than 100 species of native plants.

“Biodiversity is what gives us clean drinking water and clean air and puts food on our plates,” said Donnelly. “There’s a global extinction crisis. We need the government to step up and stop extinction, right here and now in Nevada, starting with Tiehm’s buckwheat.”

Today’s lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Las Vegas.

Tiehm's_buckwheat_Patrick_Donnelly_Center_FPWC-lpr.jpg
Tiehm’s buckwheat (Eriogonum tiehmii). Photo by 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.