Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 16, 2023

Contact:

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

Rare Nevada Butterfly Moves Closer to Endangered Species Protection

RENO, Nev.— Responding to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the bleached sandhill skipper, an extremely rare species of butterfly found only in far northern Nevada, may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act.

“I’m pleased that the bleached sandhill skipper is crossing this important milestone toward getting vital life-saving protections under the Endangered Species Act,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The window of opportunity to save this butterfly is closing and this decision comes not a moment too soon.”

The skippers live in just two of the state’s alkali wetlands, where they rely on plants for laying eggs and feeding on nectar. Water diversions for agriculture have dried up Gridley Lake, one of the skippers’ two habitats. The second habitat, at Baltazor Hot Springs, is threatened by a geothermal energy project that could dry up the hot springs the skippers need to survive.

In light of these threats, the Center submitted a petition to the Service in 2022 to protect the skipper under the Endangered Species Act. Following today’s announcement, the agency has 12 months to decide whether to protect the imperiled butterflies.

Bleached sandhill skippers are among more than 300 species and subspecies of plants and animals endemic to Nevada, meaning they exist nowhere else on Earth. Dozens of these species are threatened with extinction and need Endangered Species Act protections to survive.

“The bleached sandhill skipper is part of Nevada’s incredible biodiversity that we all rely on for survival,” said Donnelly. “Their fate may seem unimportant to some people, but by saving these butterflies we’re really saving all life on Earth.”

Bleached Sandhill Skipper
Bleached sandhill skipper in the meadows at Baltazor Hot Spring in Humboldt County, Nevada, taken on Sept 13, 2021. 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.

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