After less than 20 years on the list, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing the removal of a flowering plant from the list of threatened species. The pink and white Colorado butterfly plant grows up to three feet tall and along waterways in southeast Wyoming and Colorado’s Front Range but urban encroachment nearly wiped it out.
The Center for Biological Diversity’s Michael Robinson said the plant was killed off in Nebraska but that private landowners, the city of Fort Collins and F.E. Warren Airforce Base in Cheyenne worked together to save the plant in Wyoming and Colorado. He said the plant made a comeback after mowing, haying and livestock were reduced.
“So some commonsense ideas like that were quantified and confirmed have helped quite a few landowners to make relatively small-scale changes in management that have had a really big benefit for the Colorado butterfly plant,” said Robinson.
Robinson said critics of the Endangered Species Act complain that it’s too hard to remove species from the endangered species list but that less controversial species that receive ample funding can recover and get off quickly.
“In the case of the Colorado butterfly plant, it just didn’t come with any enemies unlike, for example, wolves and grizzly bears and other species that have frankly been demonized by special interest groups, then a lot of rapid progress can be made again, even in the face of a lot of development pressure.”
Robinson said, even if the plant is delisted, it will still be protected by conservation easements and continued monitoring. Public comment will be taken through the Fish and Wildlife Service through August 7.