An Imperiled Native Wildflower
As well adapted as Graham’s penstemon is to its harsh environment, it doesn’t stand a chance against oil and gas drilling. This species grows on sparsely vegetated outcrops of the Green River Formation at 4,600 to 6,700 feet in elevation, is found only in the Uinta Basin (referred to by the Bureau of Land Management as “Utah’s oil patch”), and grows only on oil shale soils.
Saving Rare Wildflowers from Extinction
In 2014, we joined six other conservation groups to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for denying Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection to two species of imperiled wildflowers affected by the oil and gas drilling. The Service proposed to protect the White River and Graham’s penstemon in August 2013 after determining that 91% of Graham’s penstemon populations and 100% of White River penstemons were threatened by the impacts of oil and gas development. The Service then reversed course in August 2014, opting instead for an inadequate voluntary “conservation agreement” with the Bureau of Land Management and several state and county agencies with active roles in energy development.
The case is ongoing. For more information, please visit our Uinta Basin Oil Shale page.