Wednesday, July 7, 2010

More Trouble for Rosemont Mine: The Dangers to Beardless Chinch Weed

Posted By on Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 8:56 AM

The Center for Biological Diversity comes up with two new ways to slow down the Rosemont Mine: Seeking endangered status for Bartram stonecrop and beardless chinch weed.

The press release:

Today the Center for Biological Diversity filed an Endangered Species Act listing petition seeking protection for two rare Arizona plant species. The plants occur in Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties. Bartram stonecrop is known from only 12 locations and beardless chinch weed from 13, though several populations of both species may already be lost. Both rare plants are known to have been in need of federal protection since the early 1980s; they occur near the footprint of the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine and are among the many species that may be threatened by

habitat loss, groundwater depletion, and water and air pollution from the mine.

“These rare plants are a unique part of Arizona’s natural heritage, but they are severely threatened and need Endangered Species Act protection to survive,” said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist at the Center.

Bartram stonecrop is a beautiful succulent that is threatened by both habitat loss and collection due to its rarity. Beardless chinch weed is a flower in the aster family, threatened by widespread livestock grazing on the Coronado National Forest. Browsing by cattle prevents the chinch weed from reproducing, which only occurs after the plant has reached sufficient height.

“Endangered Species Act protection for both these plant species is long overdue, and the Fish and Wildlife Service should act quickly to make sure they survive,” said Curry. “Because these plants are known to occur near the proposed mile-wide open mine pit, surveys should be conducted so that populations of these unique species are not lost should this disastrous project move forward.”

Last month the Center filed a petition seeking federal protection for two rare talus snail species that occur in the footprint of the proposed mine, which would also destroy habitat for the federally listed lesser long-nosed bat, Chiricahua leopard frog and jaguar. The Rosemont mine is widely opposed by local and state government and area citizens and is expected to cause loss of tourism-related revenue that would far exceed the financial benefit of the mine.

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