UNPS Conservation Committee News and Activities

Southern Corridor Project Threatens Rare Plants and Other Wildlife
The DEIS comment period expired on May 30, 2003 in connection with this project, See http://www.udot.utah.gov/sc/ for more information. This project involves building a 28 mile highway that connects from Hurricane to an area south of St. George and providing access to the new airport and connecting back up to I-15 about two miles from the Utah-Arizona border. Three federally listed plant plants will be adversely impacted. And an undetermined number of sensitive species, not yet even considered, may also be negatively impacted.

Species of concern relating to this project include:
Arctomecon humilis (dwarf bearclaw poppy, a federally listed species)
Astragalus holmgreniorum (Holmgren milkvetch, a federally listed species)
Pediocactus sileri (Siler cactus, a federally listed species)
Petalonyx parryi (sandpaper bush, a BLM sensitive species, not yet considered)
Perdita meconis (Mohave poppy bee, a rare bee that only pollinates Arctomecon and Argemone within the poppy family!)

UNPS took an active role in reviewing, investigating and responding to this DEIS throughout May, 2003. We believe that the DEIS does not support the need for the proposed highway, contains an invalid "no build" alternative, that needed ecological studies have either been inadequate (e.g. rare plants) or missing entirely (rare bees, pollination, seed bank), that cumulative impacts have not been taken into account and that conclusions have been arrived at based on arbitrary or speculative opinions.

Two other groups "signed" onto our comments (Center for Biological Diversity and Grand Canyon Trust) and two others that we worked with submitted separate comments. We are continuing to monitor this proposed project as it progresses.

Response letter
Gilia tenuis petition

On May 19, 2003, the Utah Native Plant Society and two other conservation groups filed an emergency petition with the US Fish and Wildlife Service requesting immediate listing of Mussentuchit Gilia (Gilia tenuis Smith & Neese) under the Endangered species Act. This Gilia, a member of the Phlox family, was originally found in 1986 by botanist Frank Smith. Click here for the press release.
Penstemon grahamii petition

On Tuesday, October 8, 2002, the Utah Native Plant Society and four other conservation groups filed an emergency petition with the US Fish and Wildlife Service requesting immediate listing of Graham's beardtongue, Penstemon grahamii under the Endangered species Act. For more information and the 120 page petition see: http://www.nativeecosystems.org/

Here is a quote from the CNE press release linked to above:

Bill King of the Utah Native Plant Society stated that “Graham’s penstemon is one of the most beautiful plants in Utah, but its very existence is threatened by many factors, including oil and gas development and off-road vehicle use, that all seem to be intensifying at the same time. Immediate action is called for if we are going to save this species.”
(photo by Duane Atwood)
Penstemon grahamii