For Immediate Release, August 30, 2021

Contact:

Randy Serraglio, (520) 784-1504, rserraglio@biologicaldiversity.org

Rare Arizona Plant Threatened by Rosemont Copper Mine Receives Endangered Species Act Protection

TUSCON, Ariz.— Following a petition and legal action from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that Bartram’s stonecrop, a succulent found in southern Arizona, will receive protection as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Bartram’s stonecrop is one of more than a dozen imperiled animals and plants threatened by the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine near Tucson, which would affect more than 145,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

Bartram’s stonecrop is a striking, blue-green succulent that typically lives on rocky outcrops in narrow canyons, usually close to streambeds, springs or seeps. Historically, this plant was found across sky island mountain ranges in southern Arizona and northern Mexico, but currently only 4,628 adult individuals are known to exist in the United States.

“Federal protection for Bartram’s stonecrop is more than 40 years overdue,” said Randy Serraglio, a conservation advocate at the Center. “The beautiful little plant faces threats at every turn, from the ecologically disastrous Rosemont mine to uncontrolled livestock grazing and historic drought driven by climate change. Without the Endangered Species Act, the stonecrop would have little hope of survival.”

Due to the small size of the stonecrop’s populations — more than half of the 50 known populations contain fewer than 50 individuals — the species is particularly vulnerable to an array of threats, including water withdrawal for mining and other uses, fire, livestock grazing, climate change driven drought and poaching.

Four populations of the stonecrop were recently lost due to the drying-out of its habitat. Drying is associated with loss of water in nearby drainages, such as from mining or drought. The population near the Rosemont mine is threatened by insatiable groundwater pumping for mining activities.

Increasing wildfires are also a continued threat to the species. Between 2007 and 2017, the Service identified 11 wildfires that burned in Bartram stonecrop sites in southern Arizona. Non-native grasses that have taken root throughout the stonecrop’s remaining habitat increase the frequency and severity of wildfires.

The stonecrop occurs in Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties. It was first identified as a candidate for federal listing in 1980. The Center petitioned for protection of the plant in 2010, and in 2020 sued the Trump administration for failing to decide whether 241 plants and animals across the country, including Bartram’s stonecrop, should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Bartram_stonecrop_Graptopetalum_bartramii-copyright_Alan_Cressler.jpg
Bartram's stonecrop (Graptopetalum bartramii). Photo courtesy of Alan Cressler. 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.