For Immediate Release, December 5, 2019
Randy Serraglio, (520-784-1504), rserraglio@biologicaldiversity.
Two Southern Arizona Plants Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection
Bartram’s Stonecrop, Beardless Chinchweed Threatened by Rosemont Copper Mine
TUCSON, Ariz.— In response to a petition and lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity, two southern Arizona plants were proposed for Endangered Species Act protection today.
Bartram’s stonecrop and beardless chinchweed are two of a dozen imperiled animals and plants threatened by the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine near Tucson, which would impact more than 145,000 acres of wildlife habitat.
Beardless chinchweed, a type of sunflower, would be protected as endangered with 10,604 acres of critical habitat. Bartram’s stonecrop would be protected as threatened.
“We can add beardless chinchweed and Bartram’s stonecrop to the long list of reasons why the Rosemont mine should never be allowed,” said Randy Serraglio, a conservation advocate at the Center. “These rare, lovely plants are at ground zero for this devastating proposal, along with a dozen other imperiled species. They’ll need legal protection to survive this existential threat.”
Beardless chinchweed is a tall yellow flower found in the footprint of the proposed Rosemont mine. It would be crushed by mining activities. Historically there were 21 known populations, but only 12 still survive. The 2018 population size of the beardless chinchweed was only 387 total flowers spread across four mountain ranges: the Atascosa-Pajarito, Huachuca, Santa Rita and Canelo Hills.
Bartram’s stonecrop is a beautiful succulent threatened by both the proposed mine and collection. Bartram’s stonecrop is found in 34 separate populations in southern Arizona and three in northern Mexico. Four U.S. populations have already been lost, and three of those local extinctions were due to drought and groundwater depletion. The population near the Rosemont mine is threatened by insatiable groundwater pumping for mining activities.
The plants occur in Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties. Both species were first identified as candidates for federal listing in 1980. The Center petitioned for protection of the plants in 2010. In addition to mining, both plants are threatened by livestock grazing and the global climate emergency.
The Trump administration has only protected 21 species under the Endangered Species Act — the lowest of any administration at this point in its presidential term. By comparison, during the Obama administration, 360 species were protected under the Endangered Species Act. Under Clinton 523 species were protected, while 232 species were protected under George H.W. Bush, 62 species under George W. Bush, and 254 under Reagan.
In 2016 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed a workplan to address a backlog of more than 500 species awaiting protection decisions, but the Trump administration has kept the agency from completing decisions for dozens of species every year.
On Nov. 20 the Center filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Trump administration for failing to decide whether 274 imperiled animals and plants across the country should be federally protected.
Photos are 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.