For Immediate Release, April 26, 2022

Contact:

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

Rare Southern Nevada Wildflower, Bee One Step Closer to Endangered Species Protections

Legal Victory Secures Decision Dates for 27 Species Across Country

LAS VEGAS— In response to litigation from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed today to dates for decisions on endangered species protections for the Las Vegas bearpoppy and the Mojave poppy bee, as well as 25 other species across the United States.

The Center petitioned for federal protections for the Mojave poppy bee, an exceedingly rare solitary bee, in 2018, and the Las Vegas bearpoppy, a rare wildflower and obligate host of the poppy bee, in 2019. Today’s agreement sets dates of September 30, 2024, for a bearpoppy decision and September 30, 2026, for a poppy bee decision.

“Southern Nevada’s rich biodiversity is at risk from development and mining, and this agreement is throwing these two rare species a lifeline,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the Center. “I’m so glad that the Las Vegas bearpoppy and Mojave poppy bee now have a shot at avoiding extinction.”

The Las Vegas bearpoppy is a rare wildflower that lives on gypsum-rich soils in southern Nevada. It formerly grew across the Las Vegas Valley but now is restricted to a handful of populations east of the city. The Mojave poppy bee, an obligate pollinator of the bearpoppy, is even rarer, and little is known about its current status or distribution.

Both species are threatened by urban sprawl, gypsum mining, highway construction, off-highway vehicles, invasive species and drought. The bearpoppy has disappeared from more than half its range and has experienced dramatic declines across nearly 90% of its remaining habitat.

The species are covered under Clark County’s multi-species habitat conservation plan. The goal was to prevent the bee and the bearpoppy from declining to the point where they would need to be listed as a federal endangered species. But the so-called habitat-conservation plan has actually helped to fuel destruction by allowing development in bearpoppy habitat in return for ineffective, unenforceable mitigation measures.

“Clark County and the Bureau of Land Management have had 20 years to save these two species from free-falling into extinction, and they’ve failed,” said Donnelly. “Now only the Endangered Species Act can save the bee and the bearpoppy from destruction by mining and urban sprawl. This agreement gives them the best possible chance.”

The nationwide agreement also sets dates for endangered species listing decisions for another 16 plants and animals, as well as dates for decisions on critical habitat designation for another nine already protected species. Other species also covered by today’s agreement include monarch butterflies, gopher tortoises and western pond turtles.

The Service has taken 12 years on average to list species under the Act, but according to the law it is supposed to take two. Litigation from the Center has been a central element in ensuring the Service adheres to the law and saves species before they go extinct.

Las Vegas bearpoppy.jpg
Las Vegas Bearpoppy. 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.