Federal court rules wildflowers in Colorado and Utah must be protected

The court ruling protects the Graham’s beardtongue and the White River beardtongue

By: Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post
October 26, 2016

A federal court in Denver has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must reinstate a 2013 proposal to protect two imperiled wildflowers in Colorado and Utah.

The Fish and Wildlife Service in 2013 had proposed to list 100 square miles of federal land in Utah and Colorado as critical habitat for the Graham’s beardtongue and the White River beardtongue. The two plants thrive on oil-shale outcrops rich in calcium carbonate, a plant nutrient.

In 2014, however, the FWS reversed course and filed a withdrawal notice for its protection proposal, an action which was then challenged by several conservation groups that filed a federal lawsuit last year.

On Tuesday, the court vacated FWS’s decision to delist the threatened plants, and it reinstated the 2013 protection proposal, according to a news release from Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization.

Earthjustice represents several conservation groups in the lawsuit, including Rocky Mountain Wild, Center for Biological Diversity, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Utah Native Plant Society, Grand Canyon Trust, Western Resource Advocates, and Western Watersheds Project.

Read more at The Denver Post.

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