Protect Nevada flower from mine or face court

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists who won a court order against U.S. wildlife officials say they’ll sue them again for failing to protect a Nevada wildflower whose last remaining habitat could be destroyed by a lithium mine.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal 60-day notice this week of its intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for missing this month’s deadline to finalize its year-old proposal to add Tiehm’s buckwheat to the list of endangered species.

The service concluded in its Oct. 7, 2021, proposal that the desert wildflower — which is only known to exist where the mine is planned halfway between Reno and Las Vegas — was in danger of going extinct.

Under federal law, the agency had one year to issue a final rule listing the 6-inch-tall (15-centimeter-tall) flower with yellow blooms, or explain why it had decided against taking such action.

“Tiehm’s buckwheat is staring down the barrel of extinction and it can’t wait one more day for Endangered Species Act protection,” said Patrick Donnelly, the center‘s Great Basin director.

“The service is dragging its feet on protecting this rare wildflower and apparently needs the threat of legal action to do it’s job,” he said.

Agency officials refused to explain why they missed the deadline.

“We do not comment on litigation,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Laury Marshall emailed to The Associated Press.

The center first petitioned the agency for a federal listing in 2019. It won a federal court order the following year forcing the agency to render an initial decision on whether there was enough scientific evidence to warrant a full review of the plant’s status. The agency then proposed the endangered status, pending a year-long review.

“We find that Tiehm’s buckwheat is in danger of extinction

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