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Wildlife Agency Is Sued Over Rare Plant Habitat

November 16, 2001|From Times Staff Reports

Two environmental groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday for failing to designate critical habitat for eight rare plant species, including the thread-leaved brodiaea in Orange County.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society filed the suit in U.S. District Court in San Diego alleging that the agency failed to designate critical habitat, as mandated by the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Critical habitat is land considered crucial for a species' survival. The federal wildlife service has long said that designating critical habitat consumes massive resources while offering little extra protection over that which a species receives when it is listed as endangered or threatened.

But the courts have repeatedly rejected that argument, ordering Fish and Wildlife to complete hundreds of critical habitat plans in the Pacific region alone.

The suits seek critical habitat not only for the thread-leaved brodiaea but also for the Lane Mountain, Coachella Valley, Peirson's and Fish Slough milk vetches; Munz's onion; San Jacinto Valley crownscale; and the spreading navarretia in San Diego, Imperial, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Inyo and Mono counties.

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