For Immediate Release, April 21, 2008
Contact: Rob Mrowka, Center for Biological Diversity, (702) 249-5821
Endangered Species Act Protection Sought for the Las Vegas Buckwheat:
Imperiled Clark County Native Plant Threatened by
Development and Off-Road Vehicles
LAS VEGAS— Today the Center for Biological Diversity filed a scientific petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Las Vegas buckwheat under the federal Endangered Species Act due to threats from development and increased off-road vehicle use throughout the plant’s limited range in Clark County. Over 95 percent of the plant’s historic habitat has already been destroyed.
“The Las Vegas buckwheat is a genuine Las Vegas native and deserves a better fate than being paved over by shortsighted development or crushed by a reckless off-road vehicle user,” said Rob Mrowka, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Las Vegas buckwheat is a unique subspecies found only in small areas of Clark and Lincoln Counties. Its habitat of gypsum-rich soils and “badlands” topography has largely been lost to the unchecked, rampant growth in the Las Vegas Valley. Today only about 1,145 acres of habitat remain, of which 286 acres face imminent destruction. Some of the largest concentrations of the plants are found in the Upper Las Vegas Wash ecosystem and on Nellis Air Force Base.
The population in the Upper Las Vegas Wash is threatened by development pressures to sell public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management to private developers in the City of North Las Vegas. The Nellis Air Force Base population is threatened by the refusal of the Department of Defense to enter into a conservation agreement to protect the roughly 230 acres of plants still remaining on the base. Another 140 acres were recently lost due to flood control and housing developments on the base.
“Federal and state regulatory agencies have been far too willing to gambling away habitat for development, while hoping this plant can somehow survive,” added Mrowka. “Without immediate action, this important native Nevadan will go extinct in our lifetime.”
Other threats to the species and its present reduced state are habitat destruction, degradation, and fragmentation due to unmanaged off-road vehicle use and utility corridors.
Under the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service must determine whether the petition has merit within 90 days and make a final finding on whether the species should be protected within one year.