Lawsuit filed to protect rare Nevada wildflower from mining |

Lawsuit filed to protect rare Nevada wildflower from mining

Nevada Appeal Capitol Bureau
This June 1, 2019 photo shows the rare desert wildflower Tiehm's buckwheat in the Silver Peak Range about 120 miles southeast of Reno, Nev., the only place it is known to exist in the world. The center has filed a petition to list it as an endangered species and is suing to U.S. Bureau of Land Management to try to protect it against mining operations in Nevada that the center says could lead to the flower's extinction. (Patrick Donnelly/Center for Biological Diversity via AP)
AP | Center for Biological Diversity)

The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the Trump administration to protect a rare Nevada wildflower from a proposed open pit mine in Esmeralda County.

Patrick Donnelly of the center said Tiehm’s buckwheat is found on only 21 acres of public land in the Silver Peak Range of Esmeralda County.

He said the federal government is ignoring laws designed to protect rare species by giving public lands to mining companies. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas challenges the BLM decision to approve two exploration projects, dividing the project in two to avoid environmental requirements to review and get public input. By dividing the project in two, each parcel is less than the five-acre threshold that would trigger an environmental review. The Australian mining company Ioneer wants to mine lithium and boron in the area.

Donnelly said the open pit mine they plan would include the entire area where Tiehm’s buckwheat is known to grow, possibly eradicating the wildflower despite the fact BLM has designated the plant as a special status species.

The center for biodiversity has petitioned the federal and state governments to protect the plant.

“It is wrong for the BLM to allow mining companies to destroy it’s habitat while other agencies are deciding whether to list the flower as endangered,” Donnelly said.