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For Immediate Release, September 26, 2012

Contact:  Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681

Nevada's Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection

LAS VEGAS— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Endangered Species Act protection today for Nevada’s Mount Charleston blue butterfly, an extremely rare butterfly found only in the Spring Mountains outside Las Vegas. The decision was the result of a 2011 settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity requiring the Service to speed protection decisions for 757 plants and animals around the country.  

Mount Charlston blue
Mount Charleston blue butterfly photo by Corey Kallstrom, USFWS. Photos of this and other species in the 757 agreement are available for media use.

“Protection for the beautiful Mount Charleston blue butterfly comes in the nick of time,” said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist at the Center. “With very few of the butterflies seen in recent years, their best shot at recovery is the Endangered Species Act, which has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the plants and animals under its protection.”

The Mount Charleston blue butterfly is found only in the upper elevations of Mount Charleston, located about 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas in the U.S. Forest Service-managed Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. The butterfly’s habitat — open forests with little understory vegetation and exposed mineral soil — has been threatened by attempts to suppress natural fires that have led to overgrown forests.

The butterfly’s habitat has been further degraded by subsequent Forest Service fuel-reduction projects in which small trees and brush were chipped and spread on the ground, covering the butterfly’s host plants and their seedbeds.

“The Forest Service could have taken an approach to the management of the Mount Charleston forests that met both the concern for wildfire protection and the needs of the butterfly,” said Bruce Boyd, a noted Nevada butterfly scientist. “Instead, they put this unique part of the southern Nevada natural heritage at grave risk.”

“Federal protection for this lovely butterfly will lead to a recovery plan that will involve several agencies, including the Forest Service, that will hopefully work together to make sure it survives and ultimately thrives,” said Curry.

Today’s decision also includes proposed protection for five other Nevada butterfly species due to their similarity in appearance to the Mount Charleston blue: the lupine blue butterfly, Reakirt’s blue butterfly, Spring Mountains icarioides blue butterfly and two Spring Mountains dark blue butterfly species.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 375,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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