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Two Mountain West Plants Denied Federal Protections

Courtesy of Bonnie Heidel
The Fremont County rockcress

The Trump Administration has declined to extend federal protections for two plants native to the Mountain West.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted a list of 13 species from around the country it recently considered - but decided to not include - on its endangered and threatened species lists. The list includes the Utah's Frisco Buckwheat and Wyoming's Fremont County Rockcress.

Both plants have relatively sparse populations. For example, the rockress can only be found in an eight-acre swath in central Wyoming.

Julie Reeves, plant and wildlife biologist with the service, said the plants didn't make the cut because another federal agency, the Bureau of Land Management, prohibits energy development and other potentially damaging activities near their habitats.

"Those (threats) are not going to rise to the level of high magnitude that could affect the species because of protections put in place by the BLM," she said.

Wildearth Guardians disagreed with the decision. Taylor Jones, a spokeswoman for the environmental advocacy group, helped petition for the plants' consideration.

"This is sort of what we've come to expect from this administration," she said after the decision came this week. "They're very hostile towards endangered species conservation in general."

Many of the Mountain West's plant and animal species are also up for endangered or threatened status review in the coming year.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

I cover a wide range of issues within Colorado’s dynamic economy including energy, labor, housing, beer, marijuana, elections and other general assignment stories.
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