For Immediate Release, November 4, 2019


Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017,

Prairie Flower Becomes Endangered Species Act Success Story

Cooperative Conservation Saved Colorado, Wyoming Botanical Gem

DENVER, Colo.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the Colorado butterfly plant from the list of threatened species today. The delisting is the result of protection of the species’ habitat through the Endangered Species Act, and represents a victory for a prairie flower that, just 20 years ago, was headed toward extinction.

“I’m grateful that the Colorado butterfly plant is out of danger,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “This beautiful flower’s pink petals will draw pollinating moths on summer evenings for decades, and maybe even millennia, to come. It’s a testament to the power of people working together through the science-based protocols of the Endangered Species Act.”

For more than a century, livestock grazing, mowing and haying, water diversions and development had eliminated Colorado butterfly plants from the high plains streams of north-central Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and western Nebraska.

Federal protection began in 2000, followed by the protection of 3,500 acres of critical habitat along 51 miles of streams in southeastern Wyoming in 2005.

In addition 11 land owners agreed to conserve their own populations of the Colorado butterfly plant. Fort Collins also protected the plants on city-owned land. And the Defense Department protected the plants on Francis E. Warren Air Force Base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. Many if not all of those voluntary protections are expected to continue.

The Colorado butterfly plant is the 45th species to be delisted for recovery in the United States, including 21 in the past five years.

The Colorado butterfly plant’s delisting comes months after the Trump administration finalized rollbacks to key Endangered Species Act regulations. The changes could lead to extinction for hundreds of animals and plants.

The Colorado butterfly plant is in the evening primrose family and grows 2 feet tall. It lives along streams between 5,000 and 6,400 feet in elevation in Boulder, Douglas, Larimer and Weld counties in Colorado. In Wyoming it lives in Laramie and Platte counties, and in Nebraska it may be found in Kimball County.

Protecting a plant or animal as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act leads to science-based measures tailored to prevent its extinction. And critical habitat designated under the Act has been found to correlate closely with conservation success. The Act has been successful in saving more than 99 percent of species placed under its care, despite significant underfunding of the law’s vital measures.

Colorado butterfly plant photo available for media use with appropriate credit. Please credit: USFWS Image is 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.