U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
June 19, 2009
Contact: Al Pfister 970-243-2778 ext 29
Diane Katzenberger 303-236-4578
Fish and Wildlife Service to Conduct Status Review
of the Clay-loving Wild Buckwheat
Following an initial review of a petition seeking to revise the critical habitat designation for the clay-loving wild buckwheat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it will undertake an in-depth status review to determine if the current designation of critical habitat is sufficient to protect and conserve the plant.
The clay-loving wild buckwheat (Eriogonum pelinophilum), was listed as endangered in 1984 with 119.8 acres designated as critical habitat near Delta, Colorado. Since that time, additional populations of the plant have been found near Montrose, Colorado.
Today’s decision, commonly known as a 90-day finding, is based on scientific information about the clay-loving wild buckwheat provided in the petition. The initial petition finding does not mean that the Service has decided it is appropriate to revise the critical habitat designation. Rather, this finding is the first step in a process that triggers a more thorough review of all the biological information available to determine if revision is warranted, and if so, how best to revise the designation.
Critical habitat is a term defined in the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It identifies geographic areas containing features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and may require special management considerations or protection. The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other conservation area. It does not allow government or public access to private lands.
To ensure this review is comprehensive, the Service is soliciting information from state and federal natural resource agencies and all interested parties regarding the status of the clay-loving wild buckwheat.
Specifically, the Service is seeking information regarding the plant’s historical and current status and distribution, its biology and ecology, ongoing conservation measures for the plant and its habitat, and elements essential to the survival of the plant.
Scientific information will be accepted until July 22, 2009 and can be submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov, or can be mailed or hand delivered to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2009-0037; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
The clay-loving wild buckwheat is a low growing, rounded, densely branched shrub in the buckwheat family with dark green leaves that appear needlelike, and clusters of white to cream colored flowers. Flowering typically occurs from late May to early September with individual flowers lasting fewer than three days. The plant is found on rolling clay hills and flats immediately adjacent to the communities of Delta and Montrose, Colorado.
In October, 2006, the Center for Native Ecosystems, the Colorado Native Plant Society, and the Uncompahgre Valley Association petitioned the Service to revise the critical habitat designation for the clay-loving wild buckwheat. The Service advised the petitioners that the petition could not be addressed at that time because existing court orders and settlement agreements for other listing actions required nearly all of the listing funding. Subsequently, the petitioners filed a lawsuit for the Service’s failure to make a petition finding. Per a settlement agreement, the Service agreed to submit a petition finding to the Federal Register by June 15, 2009 and submit a status review finding to the Federal Register by September 21, 2009.
For more information regarding the clay-loving wild buckwheat, please visit our web site at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/plants.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.