Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 7, 2018

Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017,

Rare Colorado Butterfly Plant's Recovery an Endangered Species Act Success

Flower Bounces Back Despite Front Range Sprawl

DENVER— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed removing Endangered Species Act protections for the Colorado butterfly plant, a flower species that has made a rapid recovery thanks to this life-saving environmental law.

The flower was threatened by urban sprawl along the Front Range of Colorado and southern Wyoming. But the Fish and Wildlife Service says it no longer needs federal protection. If delisted, the agency plans to continue monitoring the plant.

“The pink flowers atop the Colorado butterfly plant’s long stalks will continue to bloom thanks to the Endangered Species Act,” said Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Even as development transforms Colorado and southern Wyoming, this science-based law has created safe havens for this and many other plants found nowhere else in the world.”

Federal protection for the Colorado butterfly plant began in 2000, followed by designation of critical habitat in 2005. Eleven land owners agreed to conserve populations they owned. Fort Collins protected the plants on city-owned land, and the Air Force protected the plants on Francis E. Warren Air Force Base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. Many if not all of those voluntary protections are expected to continue after delisting.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is soliciting additional information from the public before finalizing the delisting.

The Colorado butterfly plant is in the evening primrose family and grows 2 to 3 feet high. It grows between 5,000 and 6,400 feet in elevation in Boulder, Douglas, Larimer and Weld counties in Colorado. In Wyoming, it lives in Laramie and Platte counties, as well as Kimball County in Nebraska.

The Colorado butterfly plant joins a growing list of species that have recently recovered with protection under the Endangered Species Act. Since 2016, at least 13 species have been recovered. These include four subspecies of island foxes from California’s Channel Islands, two humpback whale populations and the Kirtland’s warbler in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Listing a plant or animal as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act leads to science-based measures tailored to prevent its extinction. The Act has been successful in saving more than 99 percent of species placed under its care, despite significant underfunding of the law’s vital measures and political attacks maligning the Act itself.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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