The conservation agreement highlighted in your recent op-ed ("Penstemon Agreement Saves More Flowers than Endangered Species Act Would," July 11) is the latest, last-minute effort by individuals wanting to derail all Endangered Species Act listing proposals. No plants have been listed in the Uinta Basin since 1992; only one Utah plant species has been listed since 2001.
The op-ed correctly states the act protects plants only on federal lands or other lands where federal action, like a permit, is required. And it is true that about a third of known populations of these wildflowers are on private land. But the op-ed’s assertion that this agreement provides greater protection than the act is untrue.
While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined 84,000 acres of critical habitat are needed to protect the species, the agreement provides for only 49,000 acres of voluntary conservation areas.
If the commissioners were serious about saving these plants, their conservation agreement would exist concurrently with protection under the act, which has prevented extinction of 99 percent of species it protects.
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