Rare wetland plant found in Arizona now listed as endangered

This undated image provided by Robin Silver shows the Arizona Eryngo near Sierra Vista, Arizona. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has placed the rare wetland plant on the federal endangered species list. Credit: Robin Silver via AP

A rare plant that depends on wetlands for its survival is now on the federal endangered species list, a designation that conservationists say will boost efforts to protect the last free-flowing river in the desert southwest. .

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted the decision Friday in the Federal Register to list the Arizona hornbill as endangered and set aside nearly 13 acres (5 hectares) in southern Arizona as habitat. essential.

The decision comes years after conservationists petitioned and then sued for protection for the plant with the cream-colored spherical flower heads. Only two populations are known in Arizona, near Tucson and in the San Pedro Riverfront National Conservation Area.

Eryngo grows in ciénegas, a type of wetland fed by natural springs that come from the deep aquifer and feed the San Pedro River. The plant’s habitat and the flow of the San Pedro River have been threatened by excessive groundwater pumping in the area, climate change and drought.

“It gives us a new ability to protect it,” Robin Silver of the Center for Biological Diversity said of the river. “Protecting the plants protects the aquifer itself.”

The plant is also found in the northern states of Mexico, Chihuahua and Sonora. It historically grew in southwestern New Mexico at Las Playas Springs, but hasn’t been documented there since 1851, the Fish and Wildlife Service said.

Rare wetland plant found in Arizona now listed as endangered

This undated image provided by Robin Silver shows the Arizona Eryngo near Sierra Vista, Arizona. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has placed the rare wetland plant on the federal endangered species list. Credit: Robin Silver via AP

Critical habitat in Arizona is in Pima and Cochise counties and does not include another location where efforts have failed to reintroduce eryngo. The agency said development may still occur in the areas, but anything dependent on federal funding or federal permits should be analyzed to ensure it does not impact habitat. the eringo.

“Partnerships will be key to addressing the threats to Arizona hornbill and putting it on the path to recovery,” Amy Lueders, Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director, said in a statement. .

The agency did not immediately respond to an email Friday afternoon from The Associated Press.

The Arizona eryngo is a member of the carrot family and can grow over 1.5 meters tall. It depends on pollinators, such as butterflies and hummingbirds, to reproduce. Conservation efforts are underway to establish more eryngo populations.


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