For Immediate Release, January 18, 2023
Patrick Donnelly, (702) 483-0449, firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Tags Mining Company for Trespassing in Protected Tiehm’s Buckwheat Habitat
RENO, Nev.— The U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued a trespassing notice today to Australian mining company Ioneer after the Center for Biological Diversity documented harm from drilling operations to the critical habitat of an endangered plant called Tiehm’s buckwheat.
On Dec. 26, Center staff conducting routine monitoring of Tiehm’s buckwheat habitat discovered a staging area for drilling operations with a truck, water tanks, materials and explosives storage. The staging area was within the newly protected critical habitat for Tiehm’s buckwheat.
On Jan. 12, the Center notified the BLM of harms to Tiehm’s buckwheat’s critical habitat, including soil disturbance and the potential introduction of invasive species. Today’s BLM notice was in response to that letter.
“These rare wildflowers need the highest level of care to ensure they don’t slide into extinction, which is why Tiehm’s buckwheat and its critical habitat are protected under the Endangered Species Act,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the Center, who discovered the damages. “The BLM did the right thing here to hold Ioneer accountable for the harms it’s caused to the buckwheat’s critical habitat.”
The BLM’s civil trespass notice to Ioneer informs the company that its use and occupancy of Tiehm’s buckwheat critical habitat constitutes a trespass. It says the company is liable to the government for costs incurred as a result of its unauthorized use. Ioneer has 14 days to respond to the notice.
In response to years of advocacy and litigation from the Center, Tiehm’s buckwheat was listed under the Endangered Species Act in December 2022. It faces the threat of extinction from Ioneer’s proposed Rhyolite Ridge Mine, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded would destroy 38% of Tiehm’s buckwheat’s critical habitat.
The Center also recently sent the BLM a 60-day notice of intent to sue over cattle grazing within Tiehm’s buckwheat’s critical habitat, which the Center documented causing harm to the plants.
“The mine at Rhyolite Ridge is not a foregone conclusion. The BLM and all parties are obligated to rigorously adhere to the Endangered Species Act and protect Tiehm’s buckwheat,” said Donnelly. “There’s been a pattern of neglect and abuse of this beautiful little desert flower. I’m grateful the BLM took this action, and I’m hoping it’s the beginning of a new pattern of respect for this endangered species.”
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.