Frequently Asked Questions - Tiehm's Buckwheat Proposed Critical Habitat


Tiehm’s Buckwheat (Eriogonum tiehmii) is a small flowering perennial herb with blueish gray leaves that grow close to the ground. Plants are up to 12 inches across and can grow up to six inches tall. It produces pale yellow flowers that bloom from May to June, with seeds ripening in late June through mid-July. 

Tiehm’s buckwheat has an extremely restricted range, with only one known population comprised of eight subpopulations scattered across a three-square mile area in western Nevada’s Silver Peak Range in Esmeralda County. 

The current range of Tiehm’s buckwheat is subject to threats such as mineral development, road development and off-highway vehicle (OHV) activity, livestock grazing, competition from non-native invasive plant species, climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

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, herbivory and small population size.  

Q: What is the proposed critical habitat designation for Tiehm’s buckwheat? 

A: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to designate one unit of 910 acres as critical habitat in the Rhyolite Ridge area of the Silver Peak Range in Esmeralda County, Nevada, for Tiehm’s buckwheat, a low-growing perennial herb endemic to Nevada. The proposed critical habitat is entirely on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is currently occupied by the species.  

Q: What is critical habitat and how did the Service determine what area to propose as critical habitat for Tiehm’s buckwheat? 

A: When a species is proposed for listing as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, the Service must consider whether there are areas of habitat determined to be essential to the species’ conservation. Those areas may be proposed for designation as critical habitat as part of the species’ conservation strategy.  


The designation of critical habitat would not affect land ownership or establish a wildlife refuge, wilderness reserve, preserve, or other conservation area conservation area
A conservation area or wildlife management area is a type of national wildlife refuge that consists primarily or entirely of conservation easements on private lands. These conservation easements support private landowner efforts to protect important habitat for fish and wildlife. There are 13 conservation areas and nine wildlife management areas in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

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. Critical habitat designation would not affect the actions of private landowners that are not subject to federal funding or permitting and would not restrict access to public lands. 

To determine critical habitat, biologists consider physical or biological habitat features needed for life and successful reproduction of the species. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Space for individual and population growth and for normal behavior. 
  • Food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or physiological requirements. 
  • Cover or shelter. 
  • Sites for breeding and rearing offspring. 
  • Habitats that are protected from disturbance or are representative of the historic geographical and ecological distributions of a species. 

Using the best available science, the Service determined that Tiehm’s buckwheat requires habitat with open, sparsely vegetated areas, suitable soil, hydrology and year-round and connected habitat for pollinators. Habitat connectivity between subpopulations is necessary for the successful transfer of pollen and would be inhibited if separated by distances greater than pollinators can travel or if pollinator nesting or foraging habitat between, or adjacent to, subpopulations is negatively impacted.  

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Q: Is the proposed critical habitat on private, state, or federal lands? 

A: The proposed critical habitat is entirely on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. 

Q: Are any areas being considered for exclusion? 

A: No. Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary of the Interior shall designate and make revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the best available scientific data after taking into consideration the economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if he or she determines the benefits of an exclusion outweigh the benefits of designating critical habitat. At this time, there are no lands within the proposed designation of critical habitat for Tiehm’s buckwheat that are considered for exclusion.     

Q: How is the proposed critical habitat different from the range of Tiehm’s buckwheat? 

A: The proposed critical habitat encompasses the entire range of the single population of Tiehm’s buckwheat, which is made up of eight subpopulations. The critical habitat identified in the proposal is currently occupied and includes land that contains the physical and biological features necessary for Tiehm’s buckwheat to survive, including connected habitat for pollinators that are essential for plant reproduction. 

Q: How will this designation affect recreation on public lands such as OHV use? 

A: A critical habitat designation does not necessarily restrict recreation on public lands and allows the Service to work with our federal partners to support recreation on federal lands while ensuring recreation does not destroy or adversely modify Tiehm’s buckwheat habitat. 

Q: Is Tiehm’s buckwheat protected by the state of Nevada? 

A: Tiehm’s buckwheat is listed on the Nevada Division of Natural Heritage (NDNH) program’s At-Risk Plant and Animal Tracking List. Contact the NDNH,, or Nevada Division of Forestry,, for more information.  

Q: How does this designation help the species?  

A: Critical habitat identifies locations that present our best opportunities to aid the species’ conservation. This designation will enable us to work more effectively with our partners to successfully manage land for positive conservation outcomes for Tiehm’s buckwheat. Through good land management, we can reduce negative impacts to Tiehm’s buckwheat, conserve habitat, and find balance with future land-use plans. 

Q: What is the current listing status of Tiehm’s buckwheat? 

A: On October 1, 2021, the Service announced a proposal to list Tiehm’s buckwheat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The proposed listing rule published in the Federal Register on October 7, 2021, opening a 60-day public comment period that closed December 6, 2021. The Service is currently reviewing comments received for consideration/inclusion in the final rule. 

Q: What type of habitat is part of this proposal? 

A: The proposed critical habitat is between 5,900 to 6,200 feet in elevation on dry, upland slopes west of Silver Peak in Esmeralda County, Nevada. The proposed critical habitat is dry, sparsely vegetated, and is subject to occasional precipitation from rain or snow. The soil is often rocky and made up of a rare formation of claystone, shale, sandstone, and limestones.  

Q: Does this critical habitat overlap with any critical habitat already designated? 

A: No, the proposed critical habitat does not overlap with any previously designated critical habitat.  

Q: Is there a map of the proposed critical habitat? 

A: Yes, a map of the proposed critical habitat is available here: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for Tiehm's Buckwheat

Q: What are the economic impacts of this designation? 

A: There will minimal incremental effects of critical habitat designation for Tiehm’s buckwheat. The administrative costs associated with analyzing destruction/adverse modification for critical habitat are  likely to be a minimal cost to federal agencies.  

Q. What is an economic analysis and what are the findings?    

A: When specifying an area as critical habitat, the ESA requires the Service to consider economic and other relevant impacts of the designation.    

The economic analysis estimates the costs associated with the designation of critical habitat are not likely to reach $100 million per year and that the Section 7 Section 7
Section 7 Consultation The Endangered Species Act (ESA) directs all Federal agencies to work to conserve endangered and threatened species and to use their authorities to further the purposes of the Act. Section 7 of the Act, called "Interagency Cooperation," is the mechanism by which Federal agencies ensure the actions they take, including those they fund or authorize, do not jeopardize the existence of any listed species.

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-related costs of designating critical habitat for Tiehm’s buckwheat are likely to be limited (less than six consultations per year) to the additional administrative effort required to consider adverse modification in a small number of consultations. The costs of such administrative efforts are likely to be less than $37,000 annually. 

Q: What happens next?  

A: The publication opens a 60-day public comment period. The proposal, information on how to submit comments, GIS shapefiles and legal boundaries will be placed on and can be found by searching under the docket number FWS-R8-ES-2020-0017.