For Immediate Release, July 21, 2020

Contact:

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

Two Rare Nevada Wildflowers Move Toward Endangered Species Protection

LAS VEGAS— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that two imperiled Nevada wildflowers may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. The agency initiated a one-year review for Tiehm’s buckwheat and the Las Vegas bearpoppy. Today’s finding comes in response to petitions submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity in 2019.

Tiehm’s buckwheat lives on just 10 acres in western Nevada and could be wiped out by a proposed open-pit lithium mine. The Las Vegas bearpoppy, in southern Nevada, is experiencing a dramatic, ongoing loss of habitat due to urban sprawl and mining.

“Nevada has some of the world’s most remarkable botanical diversity, and we’re thrilled these beautiful flowers are moving toward Endangered Species Act protection,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director at the Center. “Wildflowers aren’t just pretty to look at. They’re building blocks of the desert ecosystem, and we can’t let them go extinct.”

Tiehm’s buckwheat lives only in the Silver Peak Range on highly mineralized soils. An open-pit lithium-boron mine has been proposed for the area that would destroy the vast majority of the plant’s habitat.

After the mining company began bulldozing the buckwheat’s habitat in 2019, the Center sued the Bureau of Land Management. An agreement based on that resulted in protections for the buckwheat from new exploration activities. On July 20, 109 scientists submitted a letter to the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources urging the state to protect Tiehm’s buckwheat from the mine.

The Las Vegas bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica) once lived in gypsum-rich soils across the valley bottoms of Clark County. But urban sprawl from Las Vegas, gypsum mining and poorly managed off-highway vehicle use has hurt the species badly. Over the past 20 years the rare flower has disappeared across more than half of its range in Nevada’s Clark County, and dramatically decreased across nearly 90% of its remaining habitat.

“The Endangered Species Act is the most successful law in the world at preventing extinction, and these two special flowers deserve protection from the dire threats they face,” said Donnelly. “By protecting Nevada’s native plants, we help safeguard the biodiversity that makes life on Earth possible.”

Las Vegas bearpoppy.jpg
Las Vegas bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica). Photo by Patrick Donnelly, Center for Biological Diversity. Image is available for media use.
Tiehm's_Buckwheat_Flower_Patrick_Donnelly_Center_FPWC.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.