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Action timeline

October 6, 1998 – In response to a lawsuit by the Center and the California Native Plant Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Lane Mountain milk vetch and four other desert plants under the Endangered Species Act.

March 2000 – The Center, in coalition with the Sierra Club and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, filed suit against the Bureau of Land Management. The lawsuit charged that the agency had refused to control overgrazing on the 10-million-acre California Desert Conservation Area. This negligence pushed 24 endangered species toward extinction, including the Lane Mountain milk vetch.

November 15, 2001 – The Center and the California Native Plant Society sued the Service over its failure to designate critical habitat for eight imperiled plant species, including the Lane Mountain milk vetch.

July 1, 2002 – As a result of the Center’s lawsuit, a federal court ordered the Service to designate critical habitat for the Lane Mountain milk vetch and the other seven imperiled plant species.

April 6, 2004 – The Service proposed nearly 30,000 acres as critical habitat for the Lane Mountain milk vetch, and the Center followed up by submitting comments supporting this designation.

April 8, 2005 – The Service issued its final decision, which designated no critical habitat for the Lane Mountain milk vetch.

August 28, 2007 – The Center filed a notice of intent to sue the Service over its failure to protect habitat for the Lane Mountain milk vetch — and over wrongful decisions affecting 54 other imperiled species.

December 19, 2007 – The Center sued the Service a second time over its failure to designate critical habitat for the milk vetch.

September 10, 2008 – Despite the fact that only four populations of the plant remained in existence, the Service recommended reducing protections for the milk vetch by demoting it from endangered to threatened status under the Endangered Species Act.

April 2, 2010 – In response to the Center’s 2007 critical habitat suit, the Service proposed to designate 16,156 acres of critical habitat for the Lane Mountain milk vetch. Unfortunately, the proposal excluded areas harboring two of the plant’s remaining four populations.

May 18, 2011 – The Service finalized protection of 14,069 acres for the milk vetch — not enough, but a substantial improvement over the Bush administration’s complete denial of critical habitat.

Photo by Mark Hessing, courtesy Wikimedia Commons