Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 28, 2019

Contact:  Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity, (602) 799-3275,
Mark Larson, Maricopa Audubon, (480) 310-3261,

Lawsuit Launched Over Trump Administration's Failure to Protect Imperiled Arizona Plant

TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Maricopa Audubon today filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Service for failing to protect a critically imperiled San Pedro River plant called Arizona eryngo under the Endangered Species Act. 

The Center petitioned to protect the plant as an endangered species in April 2018. By law the agency should have made an initial decision on the petition within 90 days, but still has not done so. 

“While the Trump administration twiddles its thumbs, local groundwater pumping that threatens this magnificent plant with extinction has only increased,” said Robin Silver, Center cofounder and board member. “Adding insult to injury, the Bureau of Land Management has proposed reintroducing cattle to one of the only two places the plant still survives.”

Arizona eryngo, also called ribbonleaf button snakeroot or Eryngium sparganophyllum, is an extremely rare plant in the carrot family that can grow to more than 5 feet tall. It is now found only in two cienegas, or desert spring habitats, in the United States. One is in Tucson, and the other is in the BLM’s San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area near Sierra Vista.  

Arizona eryngo is under severe threat of imminent extinction. Threats include habitat degradation from groundwater pumping and a resulting decline in groundwater levels, as well as drought, climate change and BLM’s chronic failure to control trespass cattle along the San Pedro River.  

“This plant and the San Pedro River need help,” said Maricopa Audubon President Mark Larson. “Excessive groundwater pumping is killing the river, the eryngo and many other endangered species.”

Arizona eryngo photo by Elizabeth Makings

Butterfly on Arizona eryngo. Photo by Elizabeth Makings. Images are available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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